Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw


When assessing conflict between great powers, the focus is often on hard power threats, like military and economic action. Yet, because great power competition focuses on expanding a given country’s powers of influence and persuasion, soft power is both an effective and common weapon in the battle for hegemony. This paper analyzes the ways great powers highlight social issues linked to national identity in the opponent’s state. By examining how the United States and Soviet Union criticized each other during the Cold War and how the United States and China criticize each other currently, certain trends emerge. A state can manipulate ideology to show its citizens its superiority, show the international community its superiority, or create destabilization in the opponent’s state. Yet, when manipulating ideology in the opponent’s state, there may be unintended impacts through resonance or policy response.