How can the arts contribute to shaping a nation’s soft power? Joseph Nye outlined that one of the three key parts to a nation’s soft power is ‘its culture’: how it presents itself and is attractive to other countries and citizens. This can include its heritage and the story told through its history, as well as newer and fluid elements of culture such as media, digital assets and film. 

This thought piece examines both scholarly and practice-derived literature on arts, culture and soft power. Considering international examples including China, Colombia, Germany and Russia, the paper explores how culture can illuminate, disrupt and diversify the soft power of a country, and what the role of different institutions and citizens themselves may be in the new soft power age.


Professor Gayle McPherson and Professor David McGillivray, with Dr Sophie Mamattah, Tamsin Cox, and Karl-Erik Normann, University of the West of Scotland