Soft Power for Russia: from Adoption to Latent Governance Skills

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This article is devoted to the study of Russian perception of soft power, which was initially conceptualized within the American political theory and is still being discussed in terms of its application to real political relations in the modern world. Scientific novelty of the article lies in identifying, based on retrospective analysis of Russian language publications on soft power, gradual shift from descriptive approach to soft power as exclusive instrument of American foreign policy towards an emerging independent category of Russian soft power. The latter incorporates perceptions about the ability of the state to rely on the most effective social structures in interaction, first of all, with external actors, which, however, can also have a domestic civil dimension in terms of expanding the tools for latent management of social processes. Besides considering the publication dynamics in scientific journals, the author also analyzes the gradual entry of the concept of soft power into discourse of real Russian politics through the public rhetoric of country’s top leadership and strategic foreign policy documents. Initially, Russian priorities articulated through the search for mechanisms to resist soft power from the outside. Later a consecutive postulate emerged to develop sovereign soft power instruments, based on the active engagement of civil society institutions into foreign policy process. Activation of latter, as well as the growing practices of different countries in building relations with non-governmental organizations in the implementation of their national interests, are becoming important factors to encourage government efforts for soft power. Russian experience demonstrates a two-way process in search for the corresponding national model: while the state expresses interest in developing additional mechanisms that support its policy in the international arena, the society demonstrates a demand for increasingly universal forms of self-realization in a competitive global market.

About the authors

Alexander E. Konkov

Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
27-4 Lomonosovsky Prospect, Moscow, 119991, Russian Federation

PhD in Political Science, Associate Professor at Policy Analysis Department, School of Public Administration


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