The social media campaign for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine: International persuasive communication at the intersection of public diplomacy, strategic narratives and propaganda


Nadine Thielemann

Year: 2023

Thielemann, N. (2023). The social media campaign for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. In Remedies against the Pandemic: How politicians communicate crisis management (1 ed., pp. 230–255). John Benjamins.

Keywords: international persuasive communication, public diplomacy, propaganda, strategic narratives

Focusing on the Twitter account @sputnikvaccine, the chapter analyses the social media campaign launched for the release of Sputnik V, the Russian anti-Covid vaccine, as an instance of international persuasive communication. It seeks to reveal how the campaign acts as an agent of public diplomacy and projects Russia’s soft power, while also disseminating the country’s strategic narratives (i.e., accounts of its identity, position in the international arena and general geopolitical worldview). The chapter further aims to identify the persuasive mechanisms used to achieve these goals, making particular reference to two concepts: propaganda, understood as a manipulative mechanism, and narrative (now in its customary sense) as a persuasive tool. The chapter describes how a discourse analysis based on open coding of content posted by @sputnikvaccine was used to reconstruct a rescue plot narrative in which Russia / Sputnik V saves humankind from the pandemic. This narrative structure also enables the manipulative construction of an antagonist, consisting of western organizations and corporations, which politicizes the vaccine issue and so obstructs Russia in its mission. In this way, the rescue frame enables several elements of Russian strategic narratives (e.g., Russia as a global player, a polycentric world order) to be referenced.

Post created by: Nadine Thielemann

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