Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Political Science

Committee Chair(s)

Yesola Kweon (Committee Chair)


Yesola Kweon


Anna Pechenkina


So-Jung Lim


Many states use their cultures to promote a positive image of themselves abroad. Some scholars argue that this can provide states with international benefits. However, other scholars point to cases where a foreign state’s cultural influence has led to nationalist backlashes and negative public reactions. In this paper, I examine how two common types of cultural diplomacy programs can influence how states are perceived abroad.

I first look at the promotion of pop culture products, such as books, movies, and music. Using survey data from 12 Asian countries, I find that an increase in cultural product imports from Japan, South Korea, and China has a negative effect on how respondents view the cultural exporter. I then look at cultural centers, using China’s Confucius Institute program. I find that the presence of Confucius Institutes is associated with an increase in positive opinions of China. These results provide some empirical evidence that cultural products can be detrimental to a state’s international image. As a result, states interested in the international benefits of cultural diplomacy should be wary of promoting cultural products abroad. Additionally, while previous studies do not distinguish between the effects that different types of cultural diplomacy programs can have, these findings demonstrate that different cultural diplomacy strategies can have widely different effects on foreign public opinion.