Networked Politics

Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance

Edited by Miles Kahler
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Networked Politics
    Book Description:

    The concept of network has emerged as an intellectual centerpiece for our era. Network analysis also occupies a growing place in many of the social sciences. In international relations, however, network has too often remained a metaphor rather than a powerful theoretical perspective. In Networked Politics, a team of political scientists investigates networks in important sectors of international relations, including human rights, security agreements, terrorist and criminal groups, international inequality, and governance of the Internet. They treat networks as either structures that shape behavior or important collective actors. In their hands, familiar concepts, such as structure, power, and governance, are awarded new meaning.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5888-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 Networked Politics: AGENCY, POWER, AND GOVERNANCE
    (pp. 1-20)
    Miles Kahler

    A century ago, during an earlier era of globalization, large hierarchical organizations dominated the international landscape. Nation-states hardened their borders, built up vast militaries, and extended their rule over far-flung territories. The earliest transnational corporations extracted oil and other natural resources, processed their products, and marketed them across the globe. Even the adversaries of these dominant powers accepted their hierarchical view of politics: the Bolsheviks broke with more moderate social democrats and forged an organizational model for revolution and rule that would influence most of the coming century.

    Although those hierarchical organizations have hardly disappeared from contemporary international politics, networks...

  6. Part I Networks as Structure:: International and Domestic Consequences

    • 2 Globalization and the Social Power Politics of International Economic Networks
      (pp. 23-42)
      Emilie M. Hafner-Burton and Alexander H. Montgomery

      Despite unprecedented economic growth in recent years, economic globalization is causing growing inequalities within and between states (United Nations 2005). This idea is ubiquitous. Politicians everywhere campaign on it; nongovernmental organizations mobilize around it; and academics and intellectuals study it (Mazur 2000). Data corroborate the story. Trade liberalization might improve global economic prosperity, but it is also marginalizing the world’s poorest countries, creating a global political economy that destabilizes weak states and spreads inequality among them (Wallerstein 1974; Nemeth and Smith 1985). Trade, from this point of view, is not just about money or goods; it creates power politics, making...

    • 3 Constitutional Networks
      (pp. 43-64)
      Zachary Elkins

      Constitutions are famously unoriginal documents. Legend has it that some Latin American constitutions in the 1800s shared not only the same provisions but also the same typographical errors. How is it that the most fundamental governing laws of states—documents that often symbolize the independence and sovereignty of such countries—come to be mere reproductions? Through international networks, of some sort, is the short answer. But we do not have a clear sense of what these networks look like or how they operate. Moreover, we do not know anything about the welfare consequences incurred when a state’s constitutional choices are...

  7. Part II Networks and Collective Action

    • 4 Cutting the Diamond: NETWORKING ECONOMIC JUSTICE
      (pp. 67-78)
      Helen Yanacopulos

      Jubilee 2000 (J2K) and Make Poverty History (MPH) have been two of the most high-profile collective action coalitions to emerge over the last decade.¹ Both were intentionally set up to raise awareness around economic justice issues, as well as to increase political pressure on key policymakers on debt cancellation, trade justice, and increasing development aid. Both coalitions have been influential actors in world politics during the last decade. In this chapter, I examine how these two coalitions have been agents of change. The organizational form of J2K and MPH, specifically the network-of-networks form, has been successful in bringing together existing...

      (pp. 79-102)
      Michael Kenney

      Much of what we think we know about networks is based on research about legally sanctioned interactions and institutions. Until recently, the teeming body of scholarship on social and organizational networks has largely overlooked the work of researchers that study criminal associations. Perhaps understandably, mainstream scholars have preferred to focus on more accessible networks of affiliation. But in doing so, they have missed an important insight: illicit entrepreneurs exploit network forms of organization to engage in criminal activity, while avoiding government efforts to destroy them. No less than their lawful counterparts, criminals have found networks to be useful for coordinating...

    • 6 Collective Action and Clandestine Networks: THE CASE OF AL QAEDA
      (pp. 103-124)
      Miles Kahler

      The organization of sustained, transnational collaboration for political ends is difficult. Many transnational activist networks have been identified, in some cases dating to the nineteenth century. The contribution of their network form to success or failure at sustained collective action is more difficult to assess. Networks are often designated the “most informal configuration of nonstate actors,” distinguished from other transnational social movements by their lower level of coordination and collective action.¹ Measuring the ability of networks to set international agendas, forge common goals, and coordinate the action of disparate actors in different jurisdictions is an essential first step in estimating...

  8. Part III Power and Accountability in Networks

    • 7 The Politics of Networks: INTERESTS, POWER, AND HUMAN RIGHTS NORMS
      (pp. 127-150)
      David A. Lake and Wendy H. Wong

      Network theory has recently gained importance as an interdisciplinary approach for understanding complex systems. Network theory has roots in the physical sciences and sociology, and scholars have identified common features of networks in diverse physical and social settings (Barabási 2003; Watts 1999, 2003). Despite considerable interest in political networks, especially transnational advocacy networks (TANs), political scientists have imported few insights from network theory into their studies.¹ Nor have political scientists apparently exported their insights and knowledge of political processes to network theory.² This essay aims to begin an exchange between network theorists and political scientists by addressing two related questions:...

      (pp. 151-170)
      Janice Gross Stein

      Donor agencies and humanitarian organizations delivering emergency assistance decided to form a network, the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP), in 1997 to address a basket of issues around accountability. This was a puzzling choice. First, why create a network to address accountability? What advantages did donors and humanitarian organizations see in a network as distinct from other kinds of institutional arrangements? A second question deals with power and networks. Given the resistance to what some humanitarian organizations considered a hegemonic discourse of accountability led by international donor institutions, why was a network initiated by donors acceptable to...

  9. Part IV Networks and International Governance

    • 9 Delegation, Networks, and Internet Governance
      (pp. 173-193)
      Peter Cowhey and Milton Mueller

      Scholars have used the concept of networks to examine how informal systems of information exchange and coordination can organize actors globally, perhaps even at the expense of the authority of governments. But, as Kahler’s introduction argues, the conditions for such developments are not well specified. Moreover, the form of network-as-actor is malleable and thus requires explanation. In this chapter we show how a combination of the literatures on principals and agents (the delegation literature) and on network economics can improve our understanding of the design of global governance. It applies this framework to the case of Internet governance, a realm...

      (pp. 194-227)
      Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni

      Networks are at the heart of a vibrant debate in international relations studies about the role of the state and the changing nature of political authority. At least since the 1970s, scholars have foreshadowed the demise of the state in favor of global networks of corporations, criminals, and nongovernmental organizations that link their activities across borders and circumvent state authority (see Spiro 1995; Strange 1996; Matthew 1997; Naím 2003). Networking is not, however, confined to nonstate actors. A growing literature—spearheaded by international lawyers—points to the prominence of networks of government officials that share information and coordinate policies across...

    • 11 The Power of Networks in International Politics
      (pp. 228-248)
      Kathryn Sikkink

      Networks are ubiquitous in social life. But this book highlights political networks, in the sense that they have either political causes or political effects or both. Likewise, the authors focus on transnational political networks where network membership or network effects, or both, stretch across national borders. The strength of this book is that it brings together a discussion of a wide variety of transnational political networks that have previously been considered separately. In doing so, it allows us to ask and answer theoretical and empirical questions about the general role of networks in global politics.

      In chapter 1, Kahler presents...

  10. References
    (pp. 249-266)
  11. Index
    (pp. 267-274)