Helpful Partner or Infringing Interloper? Examining Discursive Contestation in the Engagements on the EU Delegation in the Philippines’ Facebook Page

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This paper examines the nature and dynamics of discursive contestation on the EU Delegation to the Philippines’ Facebook page. It hopes to make a significant contribution to the digital diplomacy literature by examining audience engagement on a digital diplomacy platform. This is done through a discourse analysis of comments that were published over a year starting 1 September 2016. The findings indicated that commenters’ articulations coalesced into two views of the EU in the Philippines: (1) as helpful partner, and (2) as interloper infringing on local sovereignty. The presence of two contrasting discourses allowed for the examination of the nature of discursive contestation on the EU’s Facebook page. The study’s findings highlight the importance of context in order to fully appreciate the discourses that are articulated. The social and discursive aspects of context influenced how commenters articulated themselves. Viewed from a broader perspective, the context also created the conditions for the discursive contestation to occur on the EU Delegation’s page. It is hoped that through this paper, digital diplomacy specialists will gain a better appreciation for engagement on social media platforms, and that they appreciate the significance of the concepts of discourse and context in the work that they do.