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Jorge Silva

Hyperglobalization and its new forms of power: Sharp power

- In the era of globality, a new form of power emerges: sharp power. Will it be an option for Mexico?

Hyperglobalization and its new forms of power: Sharp power

The state of globality is a reality for international relations in all its dimensions. Day by day, progress is being made with greater speed in the deepening of interconnections in the social, technological, economic and cultural spheres. In other words we are in an era of hyperglobalization.

“…hyperglobalization would be the situation of high interdependence in world society. The flows of goods, services and capital accelerated, as did digital exchanges (...) in which the capacity for processing, accelerating and processing information and data reaches new levels”[1]

This contemporary dynamic has caused a massive and immediate flow of information that has the potential to be manipulated in order to alter the perception of audiences. That is why, in democratic nations, electorates are especially vulnerable to exposure of information that biases their decision towards one or another political tendency.

Source: Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The manipulation or construction of perceptions, in favor of a certain cause or actor, is commonly accompanied by the appearance of unverified sources or statements. This political practice was even recognized, in 2017, by the University of Oxford under the term "post-truth" which consists of "circumstances in which objective facts have less influence on the formation of public opinion than appeals to emotions and personal beliefs”[2].

However, it is necessary to clarify that, although this phenomenon has gained strength, it is due to the social disappointment derived from the failure to fulfill the development promises on which the neoliberal and democratic agendas have been based since the beginning of the millennium, said political boredom not only favors that feeling goes beyond rationality, but that there is a state of polarity and otherness between critics and reactionaries of the status quo.

A new form of power: Sharp power

Bearing in mind that the legitimacy of the vote is everything in Western democracies, the sociopolitical landscape of the 21st century makes this quality a vulnerability for such political systems. The image that each citizen has of the national panorama and their political options are a decisive factor in the exercise of their civil rights.

In this sense, Christopher Walker and Jessica Ludwig identified that there were international actors with the ability to "shape the perceptions, feelings and opinions of the public abroad"[3]. This new form of power was called sharp power or “sharp power” and is exercised through a multiplicity of channels that seek to consolidate certain interests through the information flows of a nation.

The Sharp power aims to control the discursive narrative in order to be able to manipulate, focus or distract attention on a given situation or actor.

“ not a 'charm offensive', nor is it an effort to 'share alternative ideas' or 'widen the debate'. It's not primarily about attraction or even persuasion; instead, it focuses on manipulation and distraction”[4]

It is its proactive and interventionist nature that differentiates it from traditional concepts of power, such as soft power, making it not a question of promoting a position but of implanting or extracting it within a certain audience. This makes his analysis and categorization of this type of power increasingly relevant given the increase in the influence of informal information sources within contemporary electoral elections.

Mexican Sharp power?

In the US electoral context, the question arises as to whether Mexico could have the potential to build sharp power and positively influence the audiences that form the political bases of the two main contending parties. This possibility would be a watershed in the exercise of Mexican foreign policy since it would imply a proactive stance and coordination under common objectives of actors who historically have never approved their agendas.

One of the main advantages would be the possibility of having a greater incidence to distract or focus American audiences towards elements that serve to strengthen foreign policy. The influence on the narratives of the information flows and on the perceptions of the political bases are a non-confrontational and indirect channel that can transcend in the election of representatives more akin to deepening the binational relationship with Mexico.

The main channels that the Mexican government could use for this purpose would have to have the operational capacity to execute and maintain programs focused on managing perceptions on priority issues for the Mexican side in the binational relationship. Some of them could be: the Mexican Foreign Service, the diasporas established in the United States, academic institutions, public-private alliances and the federal government through programs and media resources.

Source: ciaO

However, its feasibility will depend on reaching a certain level of continuity in the face of changes in the country's internal political circumstances. Which, in a certain way, has been favored with the application of the guidelines of the political, ideological and social project of the current political force in Mexico.

It is possible that we are at a very early stage to think about the comprehensive execution of a sharp power strategy within Mexican foreign policy. However, it is an alternative: it would complement the government's programs abroad, versatile to the political tendency of the objective and indirect audience in order to avoid tensions in diplomatic relations.

The main obstacle that the country will face in order to implement this type of proactive policy in the international arena will be the factors of continuity and political coordination. This translates specifically into strengthening its civil ties with the Mexican diaspora and generating foreign policy guidelines that transcend internal government changes.

The degree of globality that the opening of news media and spaces for discussion regarding public issues has reached, especially at electoral times, could be the basis for building a strategy that compensates for the asymmetrical situation of our country with respect to the United States. The 2020 US elections are a great opportunity to assess the feasibility of this new scheme of power from the Mexican perspective.

This is how the recent categorization of sharp power, in the context of hyperglobalization in which we find ourselves, provides an opportunity to explore the possibility of taking advantage of it positively in Mexico's foreign policy. Thus allowing the construction of more effective tools that increase the capacity of the State to promote the national interest.


    [1] Biswas, C. “India-China clash: 20 Indian troops killed in Ladakh fighting”, , consultado el 1 de agosto de 2020.

    [2] Hughes, L. “String of Pearls Redux: China, India and a Cambodian Base”,, consultado el 1 de agosto de 2020.

    [3] FORUM. “Canal Conundrum”,, consultado el 1 de agosto de 2020.

    [4] Bangkok Post Editorial. “Time to revisit canal project”,, consultado el 2 de Agosto de 2020.

    [5] Cabestan, J-P. “China’s Djibouti naval base increasing its power”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

    [6] Gupta, S. “India’s answer to China-backed Thai Canal plan is a huge military upgrade in islands”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

    [7] Hand, M. “EXCLUSIVE: Malacca Straits VLCC traffic doubles in a decade as shipping traffic hits all-time high in 2017”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

    [8] Abdul, R. “A descriptive method for analysing the Kra Canal decision on maritime business patterns in Malaysia”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

    [9] Thaler, D. “Making Headway Against the Sinai Insurgency”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

    [10] Bloomberg. “Thailand studies Malacca bypass to link Indian and Pacific oceans”,, consultado el 2 de agosto de 2020.

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Silva, Jorge. “La hiperglobalización y sus nuevas formas de poder: Sharp power.” CEMERI, 9 sept. 2022,