Monocle Soft Power Survey is out, how does Australia fare?


London-based Monocle magazine shares news about international affairs, business, culture and design and this month published their third global soft power survey – an index of how different nations are using their cultural influence.

Drawing on US academic Joseph Nye’s notion of applying power by persuasion and attraction rather than coercion or force to increase ‘smart power’, and with a few ‘Monocle’ tweaks to the metrics, the survey ranks nations across the globe.

So how do we fare? The USA is no longer number one while Korea is on the rise and Australia is slipping back. Why is this happening – how have our notions of common good, views on immigration and shifts in the global power balance affected the rankings?

In a recent ABC radio interview Brule states there are indices used to determine a nation’s soft power. The matrix is important during a time of austerity and economic cut-backs and is more than just economic and military might that determines a nation’s position on the scale. It is also a matter of how delicate and difficult diplomatic issues have been dealt with that can help you make it to the top of the list.

Tyler Brûlé

Tyler Brule

The UK this year is in first position due to the Jubilee and Olympics. Digital publisher Dezeen said:

“The UK came out on top after a year of international success for its filmmakers, musicians and athletes, while a spectacular Olympic Games played out in venues created by a roll call of renowned architects, with the Olympic cauldron by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and the Olympic torch by Barber Osgerby both grabbing attention for their innovation and style.”

This of course is of interest to us as design professionals. It indicates to us where the movers and the shakers are, who is of influence and where to turn our attention, what trends and developments are significant and which of the elements in the matrix have been most influential in determining our position as a nation in the rankings. It also identifies who we are as a collective.

The K-pop genre factor and ‘Gangnam Style’ are all a part of this. With its exceptionally catchy beat, Psy is instrumental in putting Korean pop-culture ‘out-there’. It points to a highly effective persuasive and focused cultural entity.

Australia is still in a good position. With the small magazine publishing scene producing niche publications like Collect, Dumbo Feather, Frankie, Smith Journal. Brule identifies these magazines as an interesting movement in publishing as a whole. Their edgy feel help change perceptions in the industry about publishing and Australia.