1st Edition

Social Power in International Politics

By Peter van Ham Copyright 2010
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    Social power, defined as "the ability to set standards, create norms and values that are deemed legitimate and desirable, without resorting to coercion or payment", is a central part of contemporary international politics.

    This text introduces and defines the concept of social power and considers how it works in international politics. It demonstrates how social power is a complex phenomenon that manifests itself in a wide variety of ways and circumstances, particularly in culture, institutions, law, and the media. Providing a global perspective on the role of social power from the EU, the US, the Middle East, and China, this book:

    • Focuses on the key aspects of social power: centrality, complexity, and comprehensiveness.

    • Examines the complex relationship between soft and hard power, the role of the media, and new communications technologies.

    • Explores the interplay between state and non-state actors in framing the public discourse, setting the agenda, molding identities, and ultimately determining the outcome of policy processes.

    • Features a broad range of international case studies and addresses issues including: culture and pop culture, media, public diplomacy, and branding.

    With particular focus on the social power of non-state actors, such as non-governmental organizations, the media, and consumers, Social Power in International Politics offers a thought-provoking new perspective on how power is exercised in the complex reality of the contemporary world. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of international relations, political science, and media and communications studies.

    1. Social Power Defined  2. Geopolitics and Hegemony  3. Culture and Constructivism  4. Institutions and Law  5. Media and Globalization  6. Public Diplomacy  7. Place Branding  8. Conclusion.  Endnotes.  Bibliography.  Index


    Peter van Ham is Director of Global Governance Research at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, The Hague, and Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. His research focuses on European security and defence issues, transatlantic relations, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and place branding. From 1996 to 2001, he was Professor of West European Politics at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (Garmisch-Partenkirchen), and he has held research positions at the WEU Institute for Security Studies (Paris), the Royal Institute of International Affairs (London), Columbia University (New York) and COPRI (Denmark). He is a member of the Advisory Council on International Affairs to the Dutch Government (Peace and Security Committee), as well as a member of the editorial board of Security Dialogue (PRIO/Oslo).

    "While the concept of power has been emblematic of the pursuit of international politics for many centuries, it continues to foster debate and controversy both within IR and amongst policy-makers. ‘Hard’ power has been pitted against ‘soft’ power, with little agreement in a crowded field of competing claims. In this new book Peter van Ham has entered the fray by focusing instead on ‘social power’, holding it to be the key to understanding contemporary international politics and global governance. His argumentation is highly original, analytically sophisticated and empirically well-grounded, rendering this a ‘must read’ for both the academic analyst and the intellectually savvy decision-maker." - Walter Carlsnaes, Uppsala University, Sweden

    "Refreshing and original – a significant contribution to our understanding of world affairs. Peter van Ham tackles a notoriously elusive concept, social power, with admirable clarity, nuance, and insight." - Charles A. Kupchan, Georgetown University and Council on Foreign Relations, Washington DC, USA

    "Van Ham gives new meaning to the term ‘social power’. This book is an eloquent and stimulating contribution to an important debate." - Ludger Kühnhardt, Center for European Integration Studies, Bonn University, Germany

    "The international system is fast changing and so we are compelled - as we always are when old certainties are being undermined - to radically rethink our ways of seeing the world. This is precisely what Peter van Ham does in this challenging new study. Not only does his highly original use of the idea of 'social power' - defined here as the ability to set standards and create legitimate norms and values - lay the foundation for a more creative way of conceptualizing our emerging order. It also throws down the gauntlet to those who continue to hold on to the illusion that we can still get by with old ways of thinking. A tour de force that is bound to redefine the field of International Relations." - Michael Cox, Department of International Relations and Co-Director IDEAS, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK