Socialized soft power: recasting analytical path and public diplomacy

  • Yooil Bae
  • Yong Wook LeeEmail author
Original Article


Soft power debate has not analytically moved beyond the questions of whether soft power matters and of whether soft power can work independent of hard power since Nye’s initial formulation. Furthermore, the question of how a state selects the source(s) of its soft power remains silent in the literature. This neglect leads to the underspecification of the nature and content of a given state’s soft power policy. In this article, we fill in these gaps by recasting the conventional understanding of soft power conceptually and analytically. Conceptually, we make the case that soft power should be understood as a form of productive power for its conceptual and analytical distinction. On the basis of this reformulation, we specify an analytical framework that helps map out how a state determines the sources of its soft power. The crux of the framework is the notion of ‘dual process’ of international recognition and domestic self-identification mutually informing and reinforcing each other for the identification of a specific source of a given state’s soft power. We illustrate the analytical framework with an empirical example of South Korea’s launch and consolidation of its new ODA policy, Knowledge Sharing Program.


Soft power Productive power Self–other identification Public diplomacy Development assistance South Korea Knowledge sharing 



The earlier versions of the article were delivered at the Korean Studies Association Australia Conference, the Korean Association for Policy Studies International Conference, and the Institute of Korean Studies Conference. We would like to thank Sunhyuk Kim, Jin Park, Eduard Jordaan, Sangbae Kim, and Nicola Nymalm for their invaluable comments. Yong Wook Lee thanks Linus Hagström and Mikael Weissmann for their invitation to present an earlier draft of this article at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. We also thank anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms and helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fulbright School of Public Policy and ManagementFulbright University VietnamHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and International RelationsKorea UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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