Imagining influence: logic(al) tensions in war and defence

Maltby, Sarah (2015) Imagining influence: logic(al) tensions in war and defence. In: Fugl Eskjær, Mikkel, Hjarvard, Stig and Mortensen, Mette (eds.) The Dynamics of mediatized conflicts. Global Crises and the Media . Peter Lang Publishing Inc, New York, pp. 165-184. ISBN 9781433128080

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This chapter critically analyzes the philosophy, doctrine and practice of Influence Activity in defence. Influence Activity refers to a particular form of strategic communication conducted by the military in order to influence attitudes and behaviours through information-based activities. In doctrinal terms, Influence is defined as ‘..the power or ability to affect someone’s beliefs or action or a person or thing with such ability or power’ (MoD, 2009: 88). This ‘power’ is simultaneously conceived of as generating both ‘affect’ – in which the state of a particular scenario or dynamic is altered- and ‘effect’ in which a particular outcome is accomplished (see Morriss, 2002). Here, I examine the philosophy and practice of Influence and its associated ‘effects’ through an examination of the three embedded logics that frame and govern it: military logic (a Clausewitzian orientation to war); marketing logic (an orientation marketing principles); and media logic. These logics are particularly revealing of an encompassing military orientation to war that is both responding and contributing to the conditions in which war is performed, but also directly impacting upon how it is performed; in other words, war that is mediatized. This is explored here not only in relation to why ‘influence’ has assumed such centrality in the military’s understanding of war and defence, but also how influence is conceived and measured. In this latter regard, I argue that media (forms, ‘audiences’ and ‘effects’) are positioned in relatively idealistic terms as tangible, measurable and controllable, which, when combined with the application of ‘logics’, has a direct bearing on what, when and how media is utilized and understood. More specifically, I argue that this combination of logics and idealism is suggestive of an ‘imagining’ of (media) influence that directly relates to, and is framed by a fetishization of media (communication and effects). It is when this ‘imagining’ ‘feeds back’ into the performance of war and defence practice that we can most vividly locate the processes by which it becomes mediatized. In short, by problematizing the logics and conceptualization of influence, this chapter explores why and how the transformative power of media has become integral to war and the extent to which this is also transformative of the organization and implementation of defence politics and war itself. I start by locating the doctrine of Influence Activities within the overall framework of the strategic communications.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
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Depositing User: Sarah Maltby
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2018 09:35
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2020 13:45

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