Propaganda and management of information in the Ukraine-Russia conflict: From nation branding to information war
Ståhlberg, Per - Senior Lecturer
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has once again reminded the world that wars are not only fought with guns and physical violence, but also with information technologies. In Western mass media, attention has foremost concentrated on Russian propaganda, directed both towards Russian-speaking populations and international publics. With the rise and establishment of social networking media in conjunction with the spread of personal and mobile media technologies such as laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers, propaganda and information management take on new forms, and thus also involve a new set of agents. This project focusses on Ukraine as an arena for information management. This project aims at analysing the new types of actors engaged in information war, and how these impact on the practice and expressive character of information warfare. It covers three domains of communication activities:
- Pro-Ukrainian information management directed towards international audiences outside of Ukraine.
- Domestic information management in support of the government.
- Communication efforts to counter Russian propaganda.
The focus is on actors and institutions, and on the ways in which the type of actors involved have an impact on the forms and contents of the communicated messages. The research questions focus on actors, audiences and messages in and around information management and propaganda. The basic point of departure is the assumption that new actors trained in commercial campaigning and PR will have an impact on the ways in information management is orchestrated, and hence will affect the messages disseminated (and, presumably, its reception).
Methodologically, it will interview key informants engaged in information management in Ukraine, as well as textual analysis of information material of various kinds. It can be expected that the project adds to the existing literature on (a) War and the media; (b) Opinion formation, persuasion and propaganda; and (c) Public diplomacy, soft power and nation branding. The team consists of two senior researchers with extensive experience in researching media campaigns, nation branding and information management and two junior researchers with cultural and linguistic expertise in the area (Russia and Ukraine).