To read this content please select one of the options below:

Profiling a niche actor of civil society diplomacy: the unattached diplomat

Anca Anton (Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Article publication date: 6 September 2022




The purpose of this study is to define the communicational profile of unattached diplomats and explore the viability of state-centric concepts such as citizen diplomacy when discussing non-state actors emerging from civil society.


The paper uses a comparative, multiple case design focusing on descriptive case studies (Yin, 2018) that explore the diplomatic endeavours and social biographies of “citizens of the world” acting at a global or local level, not explicitly attached to or explicitly against an official, state agenda: Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Bill Gates.


The unattached diplomats have organisational mobility but are attached to the cause they promote, a configuration that fundamentally opposes that of the traditional or organisational diplomat. Looking at individuals from a diplomatic perspective, not as instruments or as targets, but rather as agents with their own agenda, issues and diplomatic capital, the unattached diplomats define their lack of attachment through organisational mobility, adversarial positioning or personal financial autonomy with regard to state diplomatic institutions or for-profit/not-for-profit organisations.

Research limitations/implications

A higher number and diversity of case studies can enable the identification of patterns and standards.


This study introduces and operationalises the concept of unattached diplomats. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this study is the first to discuss it in the context of another emerging concept, currently insufficiently researched: civil society diplomacy.



Anton, A. (2022), "Profiling a niche actor of civil society diplomacy: the unattached diplomat", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles