Digital technologies have transformed personal communication, connecting people around the world at a moment’s notice. On a larger scale, these platforms have also altered the behaviors and interactions of states, reworking long-held definitions of sovereignty and international community. An emerging paradigm, the ‘digital state’ helps explain how great technological progress has altered diplomacy, economics and communication in an increasingly online world.
The digital revolution has great implications for international relations, a field transformed by online globalization. From the Arab Spring to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, digital platforms have been revealed to hold serious geopolitical sway – often rewriting the international status quo. Accordingly, international work now requires keen insight into the digital levers of real-world power.
Are you curious about the impact of technology and digitization on international relations careers? Keep reading to find out more.
Digital Platforms Have Altered International Diplomacy
Digital media now offers world leaders unique opportunities to shape international objectives. With 330 million and 2.1 billion monthly users on Twitter and Facebook respectively, official social media accounts help governments speak directly to foreign users – circumventing official channels or intermediaries.
These platforms may thus be used to consolidate domestic support and exert pressure on international governments by appealing directly to their citizens. In the US, President Donald Trump has exemplified the use of digital platforms to conduct state affairs, communicating directly to his base of over 52 million Twitter followers.
Understanding tech developments helps students grasp public sector challenges
Digital platforms are also powerful in the hands of the people. The Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 revealed how online media could galvanize mass political action. Digital connectivity has redefined international standards for access to information, with citizens now afforded immediate updates on government action. As a result, professionals must increasingly contend with the political dynamics of mass online connection during their international relations careers, a phenomenon that has already transformed international diplomacy.
Economics and Trade Also Reflect a Digital Transformation
From the fluctuating world economy to powerful private interests, economics has always shaped international relations. Yet, international experts are recalibrating expectations to an increasingly digital economy – a key feature of the digital state. Whereas the ‘physical nation’ includes industries like mining, construction, retail and healthcare, the digital nation is propelled by sectors like tech, entertainment and design, among many others. In the US, digital nation productivity has increased by 2.7 per cent between 2000 and 2015, compared to 0.7 per cent for the physical nation.
Digital goods have altered global trade, transforming a variety of international careers in the process. In addition to new technology industries, digitization has altered consumer and client expectations in fields like entertainment and finance. Accordingly, effective international relations programs prepare students to grow rewarding careers in a digital economy, even examining how technology has changed management practices in the field.
Technology Has Changed Communications and Media
Along with diplomatic uses of social media, the digital revolution has also changed how users engage with traditional news sources. In an era of ‘fake news’ some define as ‘post-truth’, news and media are struggling to adapt to the proliferation of online sources—some of them more accurate than others. Among the unique challenges of the ‘digital state’, citizens, officials and journalists are called upon to assess the veracity of digital news, ensuring clearer perspectives on common facts.
From media to diplomacy, international relations professionals now face a plurality of sources that threaten to mislead electorates and entrench conflicting beliefs. The impact of online news media can hardly be overstated, especially as it shapes political action in the digital state. Leading international relations degrees now prepare students for these challenges, helping them assess how digital media drives approaches to concepts as fundamental as war and peace.
Knowledge of the ‘digital state’ helps students make more informed career choices
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