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The Trials of South Africa's Soft Power

Oluwaseun Tella, a professor in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, takes a hard look at the limitations and problems associated with South Africa's soft power in the article "Currencies, Constraints and Contradictions of South Africa’s Soft Power." South Africa boasts a wealth of soft power resources, including the "cultural value of Ubuntu and cultural exports in the form of entertainment; attractive universities; ideals of democracy and human rights; and its multilateral foreign policy." Its membership in G20 and the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum has also improved its standing in the international system.

At the same time, the country faces many problems with the implementation of its soft power strategies. According to Tella, "Pretoria’s capacity to optimize and significantly wield its soft power is constrained by socioeconomic and political factors such as recurring parliamentary drama, racial tension, high levels of poverty and unemployment and incessant protests in various sectors such as the mines and universities. This is further complicated by South Africa’s continuous contradiction of the values it identifies with, including, among other things, xenophobic tendencies and support for illiberal regimes."

The full article, which was originally published in the Journal of Asian and African Studies, is available from Sage Journals here

Photo via Andrew Moore | CC BY-SA 2.0

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