The practice of soft power

Henne, Peter S. and Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi (2022) The practice of soft power. Religions, 13 (9). pp. 1-14. ISSN 2077-1444


Turkey exerts significant influence over Balkans Muslims. While some of this has to do with Turkey’s military and economic power, much relates to their shared religiosity and common history. Some may characterize this as “soft power”; however, this term struggles to completely explain these dynamics. Many Balkans Muslims have an ambivalent attitude towards Turkey, even as they accept its influence. Moreover, Turkish influence comes not from passive qualities it possesses but active steps it takes to maintain its image. We argue that this can be better explained through the practice turn in international relations; Turkey follows commonly accepted religious practices that Balkans Muslims recognize, granting Turkey influence even if they do not internalize its dominant position. We demonstrate this with the results of interviews conducted among Balkans Muslim political, religious and media figures. The article provides insight into the strategies non-state religious actors, states and the media implement in world politics, while also expanding our understanding of soft power in the world.

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