Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 12, Issue 2–3, pp 110–123 | Cite as

Variables for a history of small states’ imaging practices – The case of Finland’s “international communication” in the 1970s–1980s

  • Louis ClercEmail author
Original Article


In the past 20 years, Public Diplomacy (PD) studies have become a growth industry, mixing IR studies, international communication, and public relations studies. Various typologies have produced catch-all terms of tremendous evocative force – including “Public Diplomacy” itself –, often projected on national or historical cases to make sense of various forms of engagement with foreign audiences. This intellectual profusion has recently extended into historical studies, with hints at past practices useful to understand 21st century processes. However, historians might have the feeling that the map of concepts and categories proposed, while suggestive of patterns, does not quite match the territory they try to chart. Furthermore, these categories have been closely linked to the American experience, and entire linguistic and national traditions located outside the anglosphere have been kept at bay until recently. A quick glance at those suggests a gap between theoretization in PD studies, and a historical approach of imaging practices towards foreign audiences anchored in national and historical contexts. Following the development of Finland’s imaging practices from the Cold War to the 2000s nation branding, this article proposes to study imaging practices without the semantic and theoretical arsenal of PD studies. It proposes a set of variables researchers could adapt to various settings, especially to the history of smaller, peripheral nations, and remote historically and geographically from a US Cold War standard: the international environment of the country, the state of its domestic policy, its administrative organization, technological developments, and identity construction. These point to active, idiosyncratic processes that determine these nations’ imaging practices.


imaging practices small states nordic countries international history public diplomacy nation branding methodology 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TurkuTurkuFinland

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