Of mechanisms and myths: Conceptualising states’ “soft power” strategies through sports mega-events

2016-07-01T12:26:27Z (GMT) by Paul Brannagan Jonathan Grix
Joseph Nye’s concept of ‘Soft Power’ has become an increasingly used term to help explain why states – including so-called ‘emerging states’ – are paying greater attention towards acquiring various forms of cultural and political attraction. However, within mainstream International Relations, Political Science, and Sport Studies literature, a continuous debate remains as to what actually constitutes soft power, how national leaders go about acquiring it, and how forms of attraction convert into power outcomes in both the short- and long-term. This paper endeavours to overcome these issues by offering an ‘Ideal-Type’ model which details states’ soft power strategies, the mechanisms they use, and the tangible future outcomes they gain. The paper is separated into five sections. First the concept of soft power is introduced and its contribution, application and limitations are critically evaluated. Second, crucial background information on the various national authorities engaged with to arrive at the ideal type is offered, along with a discussion of the research methods used. Third, the paper advances an ideal-type model of a state’s soft power strategy, explicitly detailing, in the process, the considerations and rationale behind the design. Fourth, empirical data gathered by the authors around Germany’s hosting of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Qatar’s acquisition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is used as ‘test cases’ to show the utility of the ideal-type. The paper concludes by reflecting on the contribution this model makes to current literature and how it could be used in future research.