Influence and Attraction: Culture and the Race for Soft Power in the 21st Century

A new report report from the British Council investigates how and why ‘soft power’ is becoming more important in international relations – and why countries such as China, Korea and Brazil are making huge investments in it.

Written by John Holden of the think tank Demos, key findings from this report include:

- The role of culture and ‘people power’ in international politics is growing hugely

- New players like China, Thailand, Korea and Brazil are coming onto the scene with huge investment in soft power – China has opened more than 300 overseas cultural institutes in less than ten years; the UK has opened 196 in the past 80 years

- Big cities like London are bypassing national politics and becoming globally influential in their own right

- Art and culture is playing a big role in social change around the world – from street art in Libya to singing and dancing in Taksim Square

- The changing face of media has created an explosion in international peer-to-peer contact – so Governments have less and less influence over their country’s international relations

“A new era of international cultural relations is dawning, where in the West, the old model of cultural display is giving way to a more nuanced understanding of culture as an arena of exchange and mutual learning. As the rationale shifts, and the technological capabilities change, we can expect to see innovation in cultural relations”.