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The UK leads the world in soft power


By dxw

We reflect upon the UK’s position at the top of the Soft Power 30 index of global soft power, and look at our ongoing contributions to that success.

The UK is the world leader in soft power, according to a new annual ranking of the strength of national soft power assets.

The Soft Power 30, which uses a composite index to examine the strength of soft power assets at the disposal of countries, puts the UK above Germany, the United States, France and China.

Launched this week in London by Portland, the Soft Power 30 is being described by Professor Joseph Nye, who developed the concept of soft power, as “the clearest picture to date”. It is the first index to include the rising importance of digital assets through insights provided by Facebook. It also uses ComRes international polling to gauge national reputations across the world.

Countries were ranked based on a new composite index measuring and comparing the different sources of a country’s soft power across six categories – Government, Culture, Education, Global Engagement, Enterprise, and Digital.

‘Soft power’ is defined in the Portland report as the ‘ability to affect others to obtain preferred outcomes by the cooptive means of framing the agenda, persuasion and positive attraction’. The UK’s position in the G7, UN Security Council, NATO, the Commonwealth and the EU as well as through cultural media and entertainment has put the country at the top of the tables in terms of soft power. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) itself was mentioned as a chief facilitator in generating the UK’s international influence.

As an executive agency of the FCO, Wilton Park has held numerous events directly examining the contemporary nature of soft power including Persuasion and power – reviewing soft power in the UK and Soft power in action, as well as overseas events such as Maximising soft power assets: towards prosperity in Mexico, and Applying soft power: the Brazilian and British perspectives in Brazil. Wilton Park also produces long standing and successful soft power events such as the British German Forum, and contributes to projects such as the FCO’s International Leaders Programme.

This is in line with our broader position as a soft power asset; bringing together leading representatives from the worlds of politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media for frank and neutral dialogues that help inform policy and reach compromise.

As the concept of soft power becomes ever more significant to international policymakers as means of exerting influence, we have and will continue to focus on the subject as one of great importance for the UK and its allies around the world.

Related information

Conference: Maximising soft power assets: towards prosperity

Report: Maximising soft power assets: towards prosperity

Podcast: Soft power

Contributors – Zhu Ying, Professor and Chair, Department of Media Culture, The City University of New York, College of Staten Island, New York; Katherine Brown, Executive Director, United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, US Department of State, Washington DC and Jennyfer Salvo Cofman, Director, Smartlanding, Santiago

The Soft Power 30 – Index results


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