This article explores why economic sanctions are increasingly being used despite their ineffectiveness. It attempts to contribute to the theoretical debate surrounding strategic communications (SC) by suggesting a novel holistic approach, based on a neo-Gramscian reading of international political economy, followed by examining the case of Iran under sanctions as an illustration of theory in action. The Iranian case is most suitable for the analysis of SC for its recency, durability, eccentricity and dramatic character. The paper expands the analysis of strategic communications by considering the following dimensions: the strategic and constitutive realms of social power relations, the ethical backgrounds of SC and the normative and emancipatory power of strategic narratives in Iran. It concludes that the tactical inefficiency of SC with Iran can be explained by a failure of Western strategic communicators to understand the country’s socio-cultural constitutive, ethical and normative elements that reproduce the modalities of social behaviour. 

Keywords—Sanctions, strategic communications, Iran, Gramsci, hegemony, grand strategy 

About the Author: 

Dr Ksenia Kirkham holds a PhD in International Political Economy from King’s College, London. She has published on the political economy of sanctions, the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the contradictions of the welfare state. 


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