Normative Power: Some Theory Aspects and Contemporary Practice of Russia and the EU

Normative Power:
Some Theory Aspects and Contemporary Practice of Russia and the EU

Pavlova E.B.,

Associate Professor, Saint Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg; Senior Researcher, University of Tartu, Tartu,

elibrary_id: 402845 |

Romanova T.A.,

Cand. Sci. (Pol. Sci.), Associate Professor, Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg,

elibrary_id: 200093 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.01.14

For citation:

Pavlova E.B., Romanova T.A. Normative Power: Some Theory Aspects and Contemporary Practice of Russia and the EU. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 1. P. 162-176. (In Russ.).


The purpose of this article is to differentiate between the two concepts, normative power (NP) and soft power (SP) and to examine the developments in EU-Russian relations through this prism. In the theoretical part the authors draw distinctions between the NP and SP, using constructivist methodology and elaborating the difference in how NP and SP treat the ‘Other’. Three issues are identified. Firstly, SP is an instrument of foreign policy, of conscious manipulation of the ‘Other’ whereas NP embodies discursive identity practices, which cannot be used instrumentally; its goal is to spread the norms. Secondly, SP maintains the difference between the agent and the recipient whereas NP presupposes that this distance will be overcome, that the NP will eventually incorporate the ‘Other’. In order to do so, both territorial and temporal criteria can be used. Finally, the decline of the NP is linked to its success, more specifically, to the constant reassessment of the norms and to the enlargement of its agents as a result of the incorporation of the ‘Other’. In other words, the decline of NP is due to the ‘Other’, to the recipient, whereas the decline of SP is the result of the activities of its agent mainly. The empirical part of the article traces key milestones in the development of the EU’s NP as well as its current difficulties: these are a new round of reassessment of the values and increase in the number of agents of the NP Europe as a result of the EU’s enlargements in this century. The authors also examine the dialectics of EU-Russian relations through the prism of the difference between NP and SP. It is demonstrated that Brussels has evolved in these relations from the NP in the beginning of the 1990s to the SP in present. Moscow, for its part, has moved from the role of the recipient of the EU’s NP to the demands to be accepted as an agent of the NP. It is demonstrated that this inclusion has happened for Russia but not for the EU, which leads to harsh discussions. Finally, the authors analyse the reasons of Russia’s inability to form its NP: these are its emphasis on the de-ideologised relations, instrumentalisation of all resources as well as its being in the ideational and normative space of Europe. All these aspects allow Russia to successfully apply its SP but they also create barriers for its NP where Russia would be a key agent. In today’s world, however, NP is an essential element for an international actor to be recognised as a centre of power. 

normative power; soft power; the Other; inclusivity; temporality; identity; European Union; Russia; constructivism.


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Content No. 1, 2017

See also:

Andreyev A.L.,
“Soft Power”: Arrangement of Senses, Russian Style. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No5

Liu Zaiqi,
«Soft Power» in China’s Development Strategy. – Polis. Political Studies. 2009. No4

Kostyrev A.G.,
The intelligent power, public diplomacy, and social networks as a factors of international politics. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No2

Strezhneva M.V.,
Methodological Aspects in the Study of Foreign Policy and Global Role of the European Union. – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No6

Smorgunov L.V.,
Political identity and the concept of the political. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No6



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