The future of Britain's global role stands at a precarious juncture. External and internal challenges alike are weighing on the government’s capacity to wield influence abroad. Externally, the global status quo is rapidly changing as the centre of economic and political power continues to drift from West to East.
At home, the state of Britain's public finances demands a considerable retrenchment of Government spending. Remaining influential abroad in this context will require Britain to recognise its 'soft power' advantages, and consider how to leverage them effectively.
In an effort to map the world's soft power landscape we have worked in partnership with Monocle magazine to develop a Soft Power Index. Monocle has a strong track-record of covering soft power issues in international affairs. With a global network of correspondents, Monocle provided an on-the-ground perspective to compliment our data-heavy approach.
Soft power, unlike military hardware or foreign exchange reserves, is not a commodity that a country can store up and deploy at will in pursuit of specific objectives. By its very nature, soft power is a relative and intangible concept that is inherently difficult to quantify.
The relational nature of soft power, where the perceptions of one country may vary substantially from another, also makes crossnational comparison difficult. What is loved in Paris might repel in Riyadh.
Recognising this challenge, our index combines a wide range of objective and subjective measures of the core constituent components of soft power to create a composite index that, we believe, captures the overall soft power capability of our sample of countries more accurately than has ever been done before.