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Ties under the pressure: bridging political networks and their context

Jiří Navrátil
Masaryk University
Jiří Navrátil
Masaryk University
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper offers a network analysis of the most successful and enduring wave of protest in the Czech post-socialist history - the campaign against the second war in Iraq and against the US military presence in the Czech Republic. Through the lens of SNA, it focuses on the relationship between perceived political threats and the inter- and intra-movement cooperation. First, it describes the basic cleavages of Czech antiwar activism, defines its collective actors and their background, and then traces the process of interplay among the social movement organizations (SMOs) protest coalitions and major relevant political threats between the late 2002 and early 2009. The whole period under study is divided into three key phases according to the evolution of the political context: first, before and during the NATO summit in Prague (2002), second, after the start of the war in Iraq (2003), and third, after the official launch of the effort of the Czech government to install U.S. military base (2006). Methodologically, the paper applies SNA tools to statistically describe and compare several organizational networks. There is still widely perceived gap in study of the social network change, and namely in connecting them meaningfully to the exogenous factors of this dynamics. This paper is trying to fill this gap using original continuous protest event data (N=286) on the Czech antiwar activism, transforming it into several 1-mode (cooperation) networks, and comparing their characteristics to show how precisely the changes in the structure of SMO cooperation took place during different phases of political context evolution. Based on this, the paper attempts to draw some general conclusions on how the perceived shift in external (political) threats promotes changes in the dynamics of the inter-organizational (protest) networks.