Reframing Cultural Diplomacy: The Instrumentalization of Culture under the Soft Power Theory


  • Mariano Martín Zamorano Cultural and Heritage Management, University of Barcelona, Spain



Cultural diplomacy, soft power, instrumentalization, branding, propaganda


Although cultural diplomacy has grown in importance in recent years, there is no consensus on its definition. Cultural diplomacy is commonly framed in terms of soft power: the capacity of persuasion and attraction that allows the state to construct hegemony without using coercive methods. In this article, I offer a critical analysis of this theory’s limitations. To shed light on this situation, I provide an historical analysis of cultural diplomacy. Based on this historical analysis and on an extensive desk research, I examine the dominant methodological and conceptual articulation of soft power in cultural diplomacy literature to clarify how the logical framework of soft power favors a specific and restrained conception of these policies, narrowing its understanding and legitimating its economic and political instrumentalization.


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How to Cite

Zamorano, M. M. (2016) “Reframing Cultural Diplomacy: The Instrumentalization of Culture under the Soft Power Theory”, Culture Unbound, 8(2), pp. 165–186. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1608165.