Stronger than Strong: Perceptions and Misperceptions of Power

Jean-Francois Bridoux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A sizeable part of the literature on power in international relations addresses the issue of US power resilience. Interestingly, and frustratingly, little attention has been dedicated to the elaboration of a holistic framework of analysis that not only focuses on quantitative outputs of power (what power does) but also on qualitative factors and vectors of US power (how and why US power does what it does). This paper attempts to generate a reflection inspired by critical theory on conceptual foundational work on power through reviving an under-exploited concept: the concept of ‘perceptions of power’. Adopting a Gramscian approach, the paper argues that to understand how power is conceptualised by US officials and its translation into foreign policy decisions, it is necessary to understand how knowledge about power in US foreign policy-making circles is constituted. The paper argues that an analysis of ‘perceptions of power’ can potentially mediate between understandings of power and their foreign policy outcome. ‘Perceptions of power’ could, potentially, constitute a useful concept to make sense of the knowledge-power nexus and its translation into foreign policy decisions in an attempt to answer the question of why and how does US power do what it does?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Hegemony and the Rise of Emerging Powers
Subtitle of host publicationCooperation or conflict?
EditorsSalvador Santino F. Regilme, James Parisot
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781138693814
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameGlobal Cooperation Series
PublisherTaylor & Francis


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