‘Russification’ of ‘Soft Power’:
Transformation of a Concept
Yelena Osipova
School of International Service
American Unive...
Soft Power
- Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (1990)
- Appeal & attraction  shape preferences
- Resources:
- Culture and attractiveness...
Critique: Hegemony?
 Gramsci: reproduction of a given social order
 Ideational as well as material means
 “Universal id...
American Soft Power?
 Parallels: soft power & hegemony (Zahran & Ramos, 2010)
 American global hegemony?
 Global popula...
Russia: The Context
 Prominence in mid-2000s
• Putin’s 2nd term:
more assertive FP
• “Color Revolutions”
• NATO expansion...
Reinterpretation
 Sovereignty & “sovereign democracy” (Surkov)
• Resist American meddling
• Basis for Russian soft power:...
Recontextualization
Nye’s framework:
 Culture & attractiveness:
• Rich heritage, multiculturalism, Russian language, &
co...
Tools & Mechanisms
 Many borrowed from others & the past
 Foundational:
• Russian language
• Humanitarian cooperation
 ...
Example: Ukraine/Crimea
 #Euromaidan seen as Western intervention
 Threat to Russian interests
 Large Russian/Russian-s...
Conclusion
“For Russia, soft power doesn’t have to mean being a softy.”
Pavel Koshkin & Ksenia Smertina, Russia Direct, Ma...
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Osipova - Russification of Soft Power

  1. 1. ‘Russification’ of ‘Soft Power’: Transformation of a Concept Yelena Osipova School of International Service American University, Washington, DC
  2. 2. Soft Power - Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (1990) - Appeal & attraction  shape preferences - Resources: - Culture and attractiveness - Political values - Perceived legitimacy of policies
  3. 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. 4. American Soft Power?  Parallels: soft power & hegemony (Zahran & Ramos, 2010)  American global hegemony?  Global popularity: • “de-Westernization”
  5. 5. Russia: The Context  Prominence in mid-2000s • Putin’s 2nd term: more assertive FP • “Color Revolutions” • NATO expansion  Geopolitical lens
  6. 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. 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. 8. Tools & Mechanisms  Many borrowed from others & the past  Foundational: • Russian language • Humanitarian cooperation  “Compatriots abroad”
  9. 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. 10. Conclusion “For Russia, soft power doesn’t have to mean being a softy.” Pavel Koshkin & Ksenia Smertina, Russia Direct, March 17, 2014

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