‘Soft power’ is an oft-used term and commands an instinctive understanding among journalists and casual observers, who mostly interpret it as ‘diplomatic’ or somehow ‘persuasive’. ‘Hard power’ is seen, by contrast, as something more tangible and usually military. But this is a superficial appreciation of a more subtle concept – and one key to Britain’s future on the international stage. Britain’s Persuaders is a deep exploration of this phenomenon, using new research into the instruments of soft power evident in British society and most relevant to the 2020s. Some, like the British Council or the BBC World Service, are explicitly intended to generate soft power in accordance with governmental intentions; but rather more, like the entertainment industries, sport, professional regulatory bodies, hospitality industries or education sectors have more penetrating soft power effects even as they pursue their own independent or commercial rationales.
This book conducts an up-to-date ‘audit’ of all Britain’s principal sources of soft power. Situating its analysis within the current understanding of the ‘smart power’ of nation states – that desire to employ the full spectrum of policy instruments and national characteristics to achieve policy outcomes, specifically in the context of ‘Brexit Britain’ where soft power status is certain to loom larger during the 2020s.