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Osipova - Russification of Soft Power

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  • 1. ‘Russification’ of ‘Soft Power’: Transformation of a Concept Yelena Osipova School of International Service American University, Washington, DC
  • 2. Soft Power - Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (1990) - Appeal & attraction  shape preferences - Resources: - Culture and attractiveness - Political values - Perceived legitimacy of policies
  • 3. Critique: Hegemony?  Gramsci: reproduction of a given social order  Ideational as well as material means  “Universal ideology”  “Historic bloc”: an articulate network of social institutions that reinforces hegemony  Not entirely coercion-free
  • 4. American Soft Power?  Parallels: soft power & hegemony (Zahran & Ramos, 2010)  American global hegemony?  Global popularity: • “de-Westernization”
  • 5. Russia: The Context  Prominence in mid-2000s • Putin’s 2nd term: more assertive FP • “Color Revolutions” • NATO expansion  Geopolitical lens
  • 6. Reinterpretation  Sovereignty & “sovereign democracy” (Surkov) • Resist American meddling • Basis for Russian soft power: no strings attached  “Color revolutions” as America’s “historic bloc”  Response: enhance Russia’s own soft power
  • 7. Recontextualization Nye’s framework:  Culture & attractiveness: • Rich heritage, multiculturalism, Russian language, & conservative “moral pole”  Attractiveness of political values: • Diversity, tolerance, & inclusiveness  Legitimacy of policies: • Respect of sovereignty; holding US accountable
  • 8. Tools & Mechanisms  Many borrowed from others & the past  Foundational: • Russian language • Humanitarian cooperation  “Compatriots abroad”
  • 9. Example: Ukraine/Crimea  #Euromaidan seen as Western intervention  Threat to Russian interests  Large Russian/Russian-speaking population  Vast network of cultural/social diasporan orgs.  Activated to promote Russian interests  Crimea: success case
  • 10. Conclusion “For Russia, soft power doesn’t have to mean being a softy.” Pavel Koshkin & Ksenia Smertina, Russia Direct, March 17, 2014