University research recognised in parliamentary report on the UK's 'soft' power

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Tuesday 08 April 2014

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Researchers at Coventry University have informed the key findings of a parliamentary report exploring the factors that enable the UK to generate influence in today’s ever-changing international landscape.

The report entitled Persuasion and Power in the Modern World, which was published on 28 March 2014, examines the social, economic, technological and political forces that are altering the international balance of power and influence.

It discusses the UK’s role in this shifting landscape which has created a demand for new approaches in generating international power through influencing other countries to work towards shared goals and building positive relationships and coalitions which promote trade and prosperity. This has been described as the exercise of ‘soft power’, as distinct from the use of force and coercion for a nation to assert itself, labelled as ‘hard power’.

The report further identifies the staging of key global events such as the 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games and instruments for global dialogue like the British Council and BBC World Service as key factors that have enabled the UK to generate influence.

Coventry researchers contributed written evidence to the inquiry, drawing on the University’s wide-ranging applied research expertise and teaching excellence in the field of peace and reconciliation. The submission was prepared by Laura Payne, Dr James Malcolm, Dr Ian Brittain and Professor Alpaslan Özerdem.

Professor Özerdem said:

The report acknowledges our view that in a world increasingly defined by non-traditional security threats and hyper-connectivity, the value of soft power will only increase and therefore the UK’s actions at home and overseas need to be values-based.

Laura Payne added:

It’s great to see the committee recognising the importance of soft power for achieving UK foreign policy objectives, which include preventing conflict in fragile states and promoting human rights. It shows that we need to continue investing in areas that generate international goodwill, including development aid, culture, sports and the arts.