Academic journal article Studies in Sociology of Science

The Application and Revelation of Joseph Nye's Soft Power Theory

Academic journal article Studies in Sociology of Science

The Application and Revelation of Joseph Nye's Soft Power Theory

Article excerpt


Soft power has already become one significant concept which enjoys attention from all over the world. Joseph, Nye summarizes the soft power into several aspects, "soft power is a kind of ability, which can realize the goal through the attraction instead of the violence or the temptation. This attraction stems from the culture, political value and international policy. When the policy in one nation is logical and right in the eyes of others, the soft power has already enhanced dramatically".

Nye treats the culture, political value and international policy as the key features of the soft power. Culture is the superstructure, which will have profound significance in a nation. Political value represents the political ideal of one nation and has the international recognition and legality. International policy includes the world ideal advocated by the nation and concrete measures, which is also the major component of the soft power.


The Soft Power Theory has become one of the key words in recent years, its idea is a kind of creation in international politics, and however, it's not an absolutely new concept. Nearly half a century ago, the Italian thinker Gramsci Antonio's opinion of "culture hegemony" analyzes one of the most important components -culture. Nowadays, the classical realism leader Hans J. Morgenthau also think, "the most meaningful ideas in cultural imperialism lie in conquering and controlling the heart of the common people (Morgenthau, 2005)" and emphasize the effects of the national character, national morale and international policy quality on national power. The American scholar Huntington Samuel thinks that the source of the future international collision and division of the human beings lies in the culture, neither the ideology nor the economy.

1.1 Gramsci's Culture Hegemony Idea

Culture hegemony is the concept firstly proposed by Gramsci in the philosophy of the social theory. His idea of culture hegemony mainly emphasizes the possibility of cultural practical politics and explanation of the ideology, introduce the discussion about the country, the society and the culture and ideology. Gramsci rethought the society based on the political structure of the western capitalist countries. He thinks that the country is the combination of both the political society and the citizen society and introduces the theory: the country consists of the political society and the citizen society. Gramsci obviously put the citizen society in the superstructure. He points that: currently we can determine the two classes of the superstructure: one is the citizen society, namely the total of the private organization, the other is the political society or the country (Gramsci, 2000).

Gramsci realizes that the most effective tool to control the whole country is not the force to control the political and economy or the army, but the ideology and the culture. Meanwhile, he thinks that the ideology is not the false ideas forced by the leaders towards to the average people. Gramsci fully realizes that the importance of controlling the ideology and emphasizes the function of the culture, he thinks that the leaders should shape the ideas of the average towards the world and then the common people can obey the current politics and the social orders (JING, 2004).

Gramsci's idea of the Culture Hegemony emphasizes the ideology and the culture, is one of the cornerstones during the development of the soft power. Then it attracts more and more attention of the importance of the culture in the soft power.

1.2 Morgenthau's Idea on Power

Morgenthau is the founder of the realism who is the famous professor in the international relations. Morgenthau thinks that the realism emphasizes the power, every country has its special character. His famous literature, The international politics--the war seeking for the power and peace proposes the famous and chief idea of national interest: use the power to determine the national interest. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.