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The Rhetorical Dimension Of Soft Power


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This ppt describes my dissertation project on the rhetorical dimension of soft power. The presentation includes a primer on soft power; lists the elements of a rhetorical critique; and presents my research objectives, questions, and anticipated outcomes for theory and practice.

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The Rhetorical Dimension Of Soft Power

  1. 1. The Rhetorical Dimension of Soft Power DISSERTATION PROJECT PRESENTATION BY M. KAREN WALKER Dissertation Advisor: Dr. James F. KlumppDepartment of Communication
  2. 2. Blue Print A short primer on soft power Rhetorical critique of soft power Dissertation research objectives Research questions Anticipated outcomes Dissertation PrécisDepartment of Communication
  3. 3. Explicating Soft Power Exigence for a New Theory of State Power: The Unipolar Moment. Nye publishes Bound to Lead; accompanying Foreign Policy essay published Autumn 1990  Changed currency from military force to attraction absent explicit threat or exchange (i.e., carrots and sticks); a nation-state can shape others’ preferences in ways that advance the nation-state’s interests and goal achievement  Responded to observation that technology, education, economic growth were becoming as important as geography, population, and raw materials in assessing a nation-state’s relative strength  Introduced soft power as a binary, a definition by negation: an alternative to hard (military) power; non-kineticDepartment of Communication
  4. 4. Explicating Soft Power Soft power resources  A nation’s culture and ideology  Probability of obtaining desired outcomes increases when culture includes universal values  Universal values have high potency for attraction; outliers are discouraged  A nation’s institutions  Establishment of international norms consistent with its own society: soft power can operate in a fashion that is asymmetrical and indirect  Institutions channel others’ activities in preferred directions  Expanded list of basic resources: includes legitimate policies, a positive domestic policy model, a successful economy, and a competent military  Shaped resources: national intelligence services, information agencies, diplomacy, public diplomacy, and assistance programsDepartment of Communication
  5. 5. Explicating Soft Power Two power shifts are occurring simultaneously  A power transition among nation-states  Power diffusion away from all states to non-state actors Five trends contribute to the diffusion of power  Economic interdependence  Transnational actors  Nationalism in weak states  Spread of technology  Changing political issues (management of the global commons, mitigation of transnational threats)Department of Communication
  6. 6. Explicating Soft Power Soft power and globalization: informational and institutional power mitigate potentially destabilizing influences Metaphor of three-dimensional chess board moves beyond the hard-soft binary  Top board: achieve possession goals through state-to-state engagement over vital interests  Middle board: achieve possession goals through multi-polar or multi-state engagement on national interests; interdependence (but not necessarily harmony)  Bottom board: advance milieu goals—affecting conditions favorable to attainment of possession goals—through participatory and purposive diplomatic engagement, involving new actors who address transnational issuesPossession and milieu goals attributed to Arnold Wolfers, Discord & Collaboration: Essays on International Politics, 1962Department of Communication
  7. 7. Explicating Soft Power Soft Power and International Relations Theory: Realism  Exigence for soft power: trends constraining ways in which states pursue their national interests  Mitigate uncertainty  Calculate and manage costs and benefits of international engagement  Maintain stable and favorable hierarchies among nation states  Express sovereignty through national leadership that is both representative and deliberativeDepartment of Communication
  8. 8. Explicating Soft Power Soft Power and International Relations Theory: Constructivism  Centrality of notions about the parity and influence of intangible resources such as values, given structure through institutions, suggests that soft power is constructivist in its essence  Universality of a country’s culture and its ability to establish a set of favorable rules and institutions that govern areas of international activity are critical sources of power  Human rights  Democracy  HumanitarianismDepartment of Communication
  9. 9. Rhetorical Critique of Soft Power Correct an over-reliance on persuasive rather than constitutive theories of attraction  Reduce dissonance between attraction as a process, and co-optation as the telos of soft power  Early representations of soft power suggested a linear progression from command (hard) power to co-optation (attraction)  More recent representations suggest that command and co-optive power operate as dialectical forces on forms of persuasion  Soft power is accrued through performative actions by members of a transnational rhetorical community, imbued with common purpose, for whom discourse is constitutiveDepartment of Communication
  10. 10. Rhetorical Critique of Soft Power Treat the substances of soft power as dynamic rhetorical constructions that engender commitments from members of a community  The authenticity of ideological consensus matters  Social agency, especially when exercised through deliberative and representative processes, is critical to informing and articulating public opinion  Rhetorical functions such as invention and memory help animate substances of soft power in everyday discourse  Rhetorical leadership converts soft power resources into influenceDepartment of Communication
  11. 11. Rhetorical Critique of Soft Power Refine the role of narrative  Nye includes a discussion of narrative in the Future of Power  Nye’s writings gesture toward Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm Theory (stories competing with other stories), but the underlying understanding of human communication processes that Fisher brings to the narrative paradigm remain understated Make explicit the place of language as a structural element of soft power  In The Future of Power Nye discusses structure in the antecedents of power theory, in a fashion that is not far removed from communication discipline approaches, e.g., Foucault’s Archeology of Knowledge  Nonetheless, language remains implicit as a contributing factor in power structures and networksDepartment of Communication
  12. 12. Aims of the Dissertation Bring rhetorical theory and methods to bear on problems in foreign affairs and security studies Elaborate soft power from a rhetorical perspective  Generate a ready vocabulary to describe soft power resources and processes of attraction: e.g., identification, courtship, hierarchy, transcendence  Animate soft power’s substances of culture, values, institutions, and policies – using a case study, illustrate soft power’s rhetorical work  Recast telos of soft power relations from the co-optive to the constitutive  Illustrate how rhetorical processes and strategies generate international influence from soft power resourcesDepartment of Communication
  13. 13. Aims of the Dissertation Energize and innovate diplomatic tradecraft  Operationalize Nye’s definition of “contextual intelligence,” the ability to understand an evolving environment and capitalize on trends (Future of Power, p. xvii)  Create heuristics for foreign affairs officers who are managing bilateral dialogues and Track II diplomacy initiatives  Increase appreciation for diplomats’ work within multilateral institutions  Suggest additional approaches for managing participatory forms of diplomatic engagement  Improve capacity of foreign affairs officers to recognize and anticipate changes in predominant narratives that frame a given issue or diplomatic encounterDepartment of Communication
  14. 14. Illustrating Soft Power’s Rhetorical Force Focus on the legislative (or parliamentary) arena, characterized by open debate and active civil society advocacy on an issue that affects nation-state relations Selection of a case study within this arena allows me to:  Bring rhetorical-critical methods to bear on deliberative discourses and commentaries that enliven the substances of soft power  Describe the work of soft power in transforming a bilateral relationship  Showcase rhetorical strategies for converting the substances of soft power into national influenceDepartment of Communication
  15. 15. Research Questions Working within the discursive archive associated with the U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear agreement (July 2005 – October 2008), I will employ a combination of narrative and ideographic analysis techniques to answer the following questions:  What rhetorical tracings inform our understanding of the 2008 civilian nuclear agreement?  How did proponents’ and opponents’ discourses animate the substances of soft power, including culture, values, policies, and international norms? Did a hierarchy of terms of commitment emerge, and is it stable over time? Which transcendental terms within the joint repertoire allowed debate to advance?Department of Communication
  16. 16. Research Questions  Did leading persona emerge in the debate, and if so, what can we learn from their rhetorical strategies and tactics?  How do terms of commitment emerge and function in the discourses of American, Indian, and Diasporan participants? How are specific ideographs, such as <progress> and <security> interpolated? Do shared terms create identification or display difference?  To what extent does the symmetry of rhetorical form assure the successful courtship between national leaders and, by extension, nation- states?  What is the predominant image and character of India, as a nation- state, that emerges from the discourses analyzed?  How is the relationship between the U.S. and India transformed through the discourses analyzedDepartment of Communication
  17. 17. Anticipated Outcomes Theory  Widen the space for constitutive processes within international relations theory  Increase the explanatory force and probative value of soft power theory  Re-characterize the telos of soft power from the co-optive to the constitutive  Expand the types of discursive arenas in which soft power is known to operate  Refine the definitional contexts to which we can attribute soft power’s generation and accrual  Clarify the taxonomy of soft power, strategic communication, nation- branding, and public diplomacyDepartment of Communication
  18. 18. Anticipated Outcomes Practice  Increase understanding of the processes of attraction, as well as how soft power is sustained, and how soft power becomes influence  Develop tools for benchmarking a nation’s effectiveness in generating and using soft power (in addition to public opinion)  Move foreign policy dialogue from reactive to anticipatory questions and answers  Expand the tool kit of diplomatic tradecraft with regard to the analysis of the communicative environment, the selection of narrative techniques, and effectiveness in managing narrative processesDepartment of Communication
  19. 19. Dissertation Précis Introduction: Discuss the motivation, vision, coherence, and value of the project  Chapter I: Explicate soft power  Chapter II: Critique soft power using a rhetorical lens Rhetorical Enactments: Project the locus of soft power’s rhetorical work and justify the methodological approach to building an evidence base  Chapter III: Establish context for U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation; introduce and justify the methodological approach; characterize the collection of artifacts that compose the discursive archive for analysis  Chapter IV: Analyze discourse generated in civic and legislative arenas regarding the agreement Meta Analysis and Conclusions  Chapter V: Describe theoretical gains and make recommendations regarding the management of US-India soft power relationsDepartment of Communication
  20. 20. Comments and Questions? M. Karen Walker Email: Phone: (703) 625-1298 Web site: www.rhetoricalens.infoDepartment of Communication