The affective underpinnings of soft power

Solomon, T. (2014) The affective underpinnings of soft power. European Journal of International Relations, 20(3), pp. 720-741. (doi: 10.1177/1354066113503479)

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The concept of soft power occupies a prominent place in International Relations, foreign policy, and security studies. Primarily developed by Joseph S. Nye, the concept is typically drawn upon to emphasize the more intangible dimensions of power in a field long dominated by overtly material (i.e. military) power. Recently, some scholars have reframed soft power — specifically the key notion of attraction — as a narrative and linguistic process. This literature, however, has downplayed some of the other deep-seated underpinnings of soft power, which this article argues lie in the dynamics of affect. Building upon the International Relations affect and aesthetics literatures, this article develops the concept of soft power as rooted in the political dynamics of emotion and introduces the concept of affective investment. The attraction of soft power stems not only from its cultural influence or narrative construction, but more fundamentally from audiences’ affective investments in the images of identity that it produces. The empirical import of these ideas is offered in an analysis of the construction of American attraction in the war on terror.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Solomon, Dr Ty
Authors: Solomon, T.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:European Journal of International Relations
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1460-3713
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Sage Publications
First Published:First published in European Journal of International Relations 20(3):720-741
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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