Soft Power and Indonesian Language in Australia

In his new report "Language as 'Soft Power' in Bilateral Relations: The Case of Indonesian Language in Australia," David T. Hill examines enrollment trends in Indonesian language studies in Australian universities, in the context of Indonesia's public diplomacy and Australian government educational policy, updating enrollment data and trend analysis from the 2012 National Report on "Indonesian in Australian Universities: Strategies for a Stronger Future."

Focusing on "soft power," a concept introduced by Joseph Nye in his 1991 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, Hill, like many analysts, discusses states' efforts to exercise their influence by attracting and co-opting, rather than coercing or using force.

Hill uses statistics provided by a recent Newspoll commissioned by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and explores Australian attitudes toward Indonesia in the context of Indonesia's limited linguistic “soft power.” He concludes that the fluctuations in Indonesian language learning in Australia and Australian attitudes toward Indonesia generally appear more influenced by Australian government policy than any conscious efforts by Indonesia to exercise “soft power.” Hill also finds that it is to the advantage of both countries that Indonesian language learning be better promoted and supported.

Read David Hill's full paper in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education here.

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