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Chapter

Cover Foreign Policy

10. The role of media and public opinion  

Piers Robinson

This chapter examines the relevance of media and public opinion to our understanding of foreign policy and international politics. It first considers whether public opinion influences foreign policy formulation, as argued by the pluralist model, or whether the public are politically impotent, as argued by the elite model. It then explores whether the media can influence foreign policy formulation, as argued by the pluralist model, or whether the media are fundamentally subservient to the foreign policy process, as argued by the elite model. It also integrates these competing arguments with theoretical frames used in the study of international relations: namely, realism, liberalism, and critical approaches (including constructivism and post-structuralism). The chapter concludes by discussing contemporary debates concerning organized persuasive communication and the ‘war on terror’.