Teaching Package: America's Soft Power

Introduction

The object of the package is to provide an integration of materials in the textbook that can be brought to bear on the issue of America’s soft power; that is, its cultural, political and economic influence beyond its borders. These materials will be used as a point of departure for pupils’ work with this issue in further ways, making use of other sources of information and materials.
 

Time frame

Between one and two weeks can be used on this, depending on the response and amount of time spent on research. We assume five lessons per week. We leave it to the teacher to decide exactly how the materials will be divided into specific lessons.
 

Cultural influence

Copyright: Getty Images
Materials – The consumer economy and global influence, pp. 106-107
Review the definition of the terms “hard power” and “soft power.” Divide the pupils into groups and ask them to identify contemporary American influence in the following categories mentioned in these paragraphs: music, clothes styles, food, movies and TV. Compare lists in plenum. Then compare this influence with that of other countries in the world. Do any other countries exert a similar influence? Which countries? Is this influence as large as America’s? Has American influence increased or decreased recently? Why?
Related activity: p. 120, 3 DISCUSSION a)
 
Materials – Changing American Culture, p. 94. The Roaring Twenties, p 99. The Harlem Renaissance p. 393. The Counter-Culture, p. 110.

Divide the class into groups and assign one of the four cultural topics above to each. What was typical for these cultural phenomena? Who were some of the major figures of each? What kind of influence did they have on America and the world? Can their influence still be seen or heard? Let the groups meet one another to exchange information once they have done their research. If you like, they can make a wall poster exhibiting their results.
Related activity: p.101, 7 WRITING b).
 

Political influence

Materials – America and emulation; pp. 212–213.
Review the term presidential democracy. Discuss why America was a source of inspiration for Norway in 1814, perhaps bringing up the division of government powers that the two nations constitutions have in common (executive, legislative and judicial). How does the Norwegian form of government differ from presidential democracy today? (If you want greater depth, you might want to ask when and how Norway became a parliamentary democracy and how this undermined the original intent of the constitution.) 
Related activity; p. 217, 3 DISCUSSION a)
 
Materials – Influence in modern times, pp. 214-216.
Review the Cold War and the New World Order that followed it (pp.105–106, 113). Discuss the issue of whether it is possible (or ever justifiable) for one country or group of countries to impose a system of government on another. Then divide the pupils into groups and have them select one of the countries mentioned at the bottom of page 214 for further study. How is its government now organized? How well is it functioning? Ask them to prepare a short oral report on this subject for the following lesson.
Related activity; p. 217, 3 DISCUSSION b), c)
 

Economic influence

Materials – The Anglo-American World: Riches and Rags, p. 219 (introductory paragraphs) and p. 221, Riches.
Review the rise of the American consumer economy after World War Two (106-107). Discuss aspects of everyday economic life in Norway which have been modeled on American economic developments; i.e. shopping malls, car culture, fashion labels, TV advertisements, internet selling & buying (as in E-Bay), etc. What aspects of the free market consumer economy founded by America are best? Which are worst? What economic developments in America would you NOT wish to see become part of Norwegian economic life?  
Related activity; p. 228, DISCUSSION a)
 
Materials – The Response: back to basics, p. 221, Defenders and critics, p. 227
Review the rise of economic conservatism (Limitation and reaction, p. 112).  Discuss whether the measures taken to increase the competitiveness of the American economy by reducing the size and expense of the government would also be appropriate for Norway. In what connection have you heard the term “privatization” used in Norway? Is it a popular political idea? The free market is, by definition, not controlled by any outside force. Is this what is meant by the phrase, “Government is not the solution. Government is the problem”?
Divide the class into two groups, one which argues that government is necessary for the fair distribution of opportunity and wealth in the country. The other group argues that government stands in the way of individual opportunity and simply taxes the wealth produced by the free market.
Related activity; p. 228, DISCUSSION c)
 
Cappelen Damm

Sist oppdatert: 28.07.2008

© Cappelen Damm AS