Essay collection

London Essays – Issue 1: Soft Power

This edition of London Essays looks explores London’s changing place in the world, its reputation and its influence.

It’s long been recognised that nations depend for their success not just on hard military muscle or economic clout, but on their soft power – their ability to draw on the goodwill of governments, companies, and ordinary citizens all over the world.

Soft power is in some ways more fundamental than military or economic power – a nation that is liked and admired is much more likely to find political allies, secure trading partners or draw in talent, tourists and investors, than one that is not.

But it is not just nations that depend on soft power. Cities do too.

London’s star is shining particularly brightly at the moment. Both the expansion of the global economy and the economic travails of the last decade have given London’s allure a boost, with foreign companies, wealthy families, poor migrants, and tourists beating their way to the capital in ever greater numbers. The essays in this edition explore how London’s reputation has changed over time, what has driven these changes and what more London can do to bolster its soft power and use it well.


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