Transforming practices of diplomacy: the European External Action Service and digital disinformation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the transformative role of practices of countering digital disinformation in European Union diplomacy. It argues that an overlooked dimension of the change brought by the rise of digital disinformation is located in the emergence of everyday countering practices. Efforts to counter disinformation have led to the recruitment of new actors with different dispositions and skillsets than those of traditional diplomats and state officials in diplomatic organizations such as the European External Action Service. Focusing on the countering efforts by the East StratCom Task Force, a unit introduced in 2015, the article argues that the composition of actors, the task force's practices and the reorientation in audience perception it reflected, contributed significantly to institutional transformation. Drawing on 23 interviews with key actors and building on recent advancements in international practice theory, the article shows how change and transformation can be studied in practices that have resulted from digitalization in international politics. The article thus contributes to an increased understanding of the digitalization of diplomacy in which new practices can emerge from both deliberate reflection and experimentation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberiiab035
Pages (from-to)841-859
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number3
Early online date2021 Apr 10
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science

Free keywords

  • International Relations Theory
  • Conflict, Security and Defence
  • Europe


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