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In 2012 we issued a call for papers for ‘Networked World? The Politics of Cyberspace and Social Media.’ Given recent events that have foregrounded the ongoing importance of the politics of cyberspace from revelations about the scope of monitoring by GCHQ to coalition attempts to impose more invasive forms of internet filtering, we are pleased that articles that arose from this call are published in our first issue for 2014. We would also like to take this opportunity to issue a new call for papers based on another contemporary dynamic in politics and international relations: the use of soft power by hard states.

States often deploy public and cultural diplomacy to improve their image with foreign populations and further their foreign policy objectives. The success of such efforts depends on many factors, including international norms of state behaviour and regime legitimacy. Over the past decade, academics have made significant progress in studying the soft power initiatives of liberal democracies, especially the US and within the EU. However, the soft power ambitions of authoritarian states remain surprisingly under researched.

Politics invites articles for a Special Issue/Section on how non-democratic regimes promote and manage their image. We have a particular interest in China and Russia given the relative size and influence of these states and their recent national image campaigns. However, we welcome both theoretical and empirical based submissions on other cases or themes relevant to the topic, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • When are state led/enabled campaigns accepted and when are they not? How can we account for the differences in levels of acceptance?
  • Under what conditions are legitimacy and credibility contested?
  • How can we distinguish between public diplomacy and propaganda?
  • What resources and models can we develop to help study the impact of soft power?
  • How can we better interpret the meaning behind the public use of cultural products?
  • What are the strategies, goals and impacts of the Confucius Institutes and/or Russia World Foundation?
  • How do China and/or Russia ‘sell’ their image and cultural products to foreign audiences?
  • How do Chinese/Russian image campaigns compare to those of liberal states?
  • Who are the main targets of Chinese/Russian public diplomacy?

Articles should be 4000–8000 words in length.

Deadline for submission is 1st May 2014.