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French Soft Power

Module Code: FR352
Module Name: French Soft Power
Module Coordinator: Professor Jeremy Ahearne
Tuesdays 16.00-18.00 in H4.44
Module Credits: 30

Module Description

France has been a pioneer since the late nineteenth century in the orchestration of a broad array of ‘cultural’ tools in order to maintain its profile and obtain recognition outside its borders. These tools belong to the domain of what Joseph Nye has called ‘soft power’, in apparent contrast to the ‘hard power’ resources of military might and economic wealth. In this new module, we will study France’s uses of such tools over the last thirty years, and with reference to the following key topics:

  • The French language itself as a world language (and France’s relation to other francophone countries)
  • Global news (and France’s global news channels RFI and France 24)
  • Arts and entertainment (and France’s endeavours to protect and promote its home-produced artistic products, particuarly in its economic and political conflicts with the USA)
  • Higher education (and France’s strategies to compete in a field now framed by international league tables)
  • Emmanuel Macron's endeavours during his presidency to mobilize soft power resources

France once set the templates for action in such domains. We shall explore, however, how in recent decades it has had to adapt to templates set elsewhere, and how it has had to work harder to makes its voice audible in a much more ‘crowded’ international arena. We will ask how successful it has been in carving out a distinct international profile for itself. We will also consider to what extent its international action in such domains has reproduced older colonial or ‘great power’ models, and to what extent it has challenged prevailing patterns of international relations.

We will work with a broad and carefully selected range of materials (government reports, media debates, radio and television material, academic analyses).

Assessment Method:

50% - Assessed work & 50% - Formal examination

OR 100% Assessed work

OR 100% Examined