Introducing Justin Bieber, non-state actor and public diplomat, and his Beliebers


4 May 2013 by ryandalton2013

A few short weeks after taking fire for writing a shameless self-plug in the guestbook at the Anne Frank House, Justin Bieber–pop star and, apparently, public diplomat–is making waves in international broadcasting and social media.


Alright, so public diplomat might be a step too far. But international media and the global social media community have certainly been issuing a great deal of attention to his recent concert in Turkey, during which he took two intermissions for Muslim call to prayer. Whether or not Bieber planned on it is open to interpretation, but it is clear that people around the world are paying heed to the gesture.


However, as Foreign Policy reported, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported that the concert stoppage was due to fans hurling toys at Bieber.


Whatever the circumstances may have been, Justin Bieber’s attractiveness (and thus soft power some like–oh, I don’t know–Joseph Nye might say) clearly reaches beyond his pop appeal.


Also–albeit not a prototypical definition for “attractiveness”–some of Bieber’s concerts have drawn international audiences to interpret his lifestyle choices as positives or shortcomings.


3 thoughts on “Introducing Justin Bieber, non-state actor and public diplomat, and his Beliebers

  1. SaraGR says:

    Ryan, thanks for sharing. I too have seen the news coverage regarding Justin Beiber’s. The news has portrayed the concert actions and Anne Frank incident as if it were a top official in the Obama administration that was doing these things. However, since pop-stars have greater international recognition than U.S. government officials while abroad, they do have an important stake in our diplomatic relations. What they do affects others perceptions of how everyone else in the U.S. thinks and acts. How we react to what he (or any internationally recognized U.S. star) does is also important in demonstrating to the world that we either condone or condemn their actions.

  2. livpontes says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for your post. I had no idea that “the Biebs” was taking intermission breaks to allow for religious practices, if true. But I do agree there is definitely attractiveness in his role and he does exert some soft power – people that like his music may become inclined to learn more about the United States and other artists like him, perhaps.

    He may also provoke the opposite reaction, sure, but that is a gamble, I think, one takes whenever art forms are being exported and presented in different contexts to which they were made.

  3. clairebdc says:

    Ryan – way to lighten up finals week with a Bieber post!

    I think your post points to a growing trend in the celebrity diplomat, whether it be by federal nomination like Michelle Kwan as a State Department Cultural Ambassador or by private company nomination such as Dennis Rodman as a Vice Media appointed representative to North Korea.

    This trend raises the question: 1) how does the United States, or any nation-state for that matter, control its image abroad when celebrities interact with a global audience with an evitable draw from the international media.

    Fascinating that he paused for prayer during his concert! Do you think he attended an IMI cross-cultural communication workshop? 🙂

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