Perspectives on soft power

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Since its conceptualisation in the 1980s by Joseph Nye, the term ‘soft power’–the ability of states to persuade others to do what they want without force or coercion–has been widely invoked in foreign policy discussions. While proponents highlight the successful applications of soft power in confronting critical regional or global issues, others point to its limitations in contrast to those of ‘hard power’ approaches, such as military intervention, coercive diplomacy and economic sanctions.

This thematic Collection explores all aspects of soft power, from approaches to framing foreign-policy agendas, to the strategies that countries use to persuade and elicit positive attraction in order to obtain preferred outcomes.

Contributions are invited from a range of disciplines and perspectives, including, but not restricted to: diplomacy, international relations, security studies, international economics and law, sociology and anthropology.

Given the new and emerging incarnations of soft power in the era of ‘new media’, submissions from the following fields are also welcomed: communications studies, cross-cultural sociology, global business and marketing studies, and information technology management.

Articles exploring the following key themes and others of relevance will be considered:

  • Evolving definitions of soft power
  • Instruments of soft power and their use (e.g., public diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and financial aid)
  • Country- and region-specific case studies
  • Interplay between soft and hard power
  • Infrastructure dynamics to support soft power (e.g., informational technology, social media)
  • Implications and outcomes of soft power
  • Future of soft power and ‘smart power’

Read Joseph Nye's reflections on "Soft Power" since its conception.

This is an open Collection - as such there is no closing date for submissions. 

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  • Nick Anguelov

    University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USA

Submitting a paper for consideration


To submit your manuscript for consideration at Humanities & Social Sciences Communications as part of this Collection, please follow the steps detailed on this page. On the first page of our online submission system, under “I’m submitting:” select your article type. Authors should express their interest in the Collection in their cover letter.

Accepted papers are published on a rolling basis as soon as they are ready.

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