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ECPR General Conference 2020, University of Innsbruck

Political Networks

Policy Analysis
Political Leadership
Political Methodology
Political Theory
Social Movements
Section Number
Section Chair
Kathryn Oliver
University of Oxford
Section Co-Chair
Franziska Keller
University of Gothenburg

Political Networks

A section for the 2015 ECPR General Conference, Montreal
Chair: Kathryn Oliver, UCL
Co-chair: Franziska Keller, New York University
e-mail co-chair:

This section aims to draw together methodological, theoretical or empirical papers investigating the role of networks in political processes. These can be networks between all forms of actors with decisional capacity, be they individuals (members of the public as well as elites) or organizations (voluntary/public bureaucracies/ business/states) and countries. We also take into account events (protest events, political events in general, as well as events, relevant to the political biographies of individuals) that nest the macro-micro elements of social interaction. Our view of ties is similarly inclusive, looking at exchanges of resources, information, and symbols with varying degrees of legitimacy and authority, with particular attention to boundary spanning mechanisms, and the tension between offline and online types of networks. We aim to promote discussion about the use of network analysis in illuminating political and policy processes.

We invite paper proposals to the following three panels:

Policy Networks
Chair: Kathryn Oliver

Social Movements and Social media
Chair: Mario Diana

Political Elites
Chair: Franziska Keller

Panel outlines

Policy Networks
Chair: Kathryn Oliver,
Much of the literature on policy networks sees them variously as a mode of governance, and a metaphor for the reality of governance, or configurations of individuals/organisational engaged in a policy sector . We do not yet understand to what extent theories developed about social networks such as transitivity apply to non-comparable policy networks (which may include the interpersonal, interorganisational, inter-state, and be derived from survey data, documentary analysis). Secondly, in most of the policy networks literature, the nature of the tie is unspecified, undermining any analytical conclusions (e.g. Evidence-provision, advice, influence). In addition, the role of agency in creating ties, maintaining them and acting through them is not understood. The panel solicits papers exploring (1) theoretical or methodological questions, such as the use of network metrics to identify key players in policy processes, typologies of network measures and ties which illuminate policy processes, or multi-modal networks and their role in understanding evidence-based policy making, (2) substantive cases, such as the role of think-tanks or other formal and informal institutions in policy, individual cases of policy and/or evidence networks, or the role of elites in controlling knowledge and power within policy or (3) comparative cases, in which multiple approaches or cases are compared. This panel aims to develop this field by soliciting empirical and theoretical papers on the role of networks in policy processes, especially comparative or methodologically innovative approaches.

Social Movements and Social Media
Chair: Mario Diani,
With the onset of the Arab Spring, social movements have once more become an important research topic in Political Science. Because of the importance of twitter, facebook and other social online platform in those protests, researchers have focused in particular on these new techologies and on networks created through online interaction. However, this panel is also open for applications of network analytic methods to the study of social movements and collective action from a range of perspectives, from mechanisms of individual recruitment to inter-organizational alliances and coalitions, to networks of events. Submissions of papers that include a comparative dimension and/or an analysis of network evolution over time are particularly encouraged.

Political Elites
Chair: Franziska Keller,
The analysis of social networks among political elites in parliaments and assemblies did not start with Fowler's (2006) analysis of co-sponsorship networks in the US congress. But it has certainly raised considerable attention to this topic in American Politics. These networks have been used to understand cooperation across partisan lines, informal influence, and polarization. But data on co-voting, or co-sponsorship of bills or inquiries is available for several European parliaments as well, and is increasingly being used. This panel would thus give European researchers working on similar data for Germany, Italy, or Tunisia, a platform to share their findings among each other and with their American peers. The panel will also provide a venue to discuss alternative approaches to construct meaningful social networks in assemblies - or among political elites in general - worldwide.

Chair Biographies

Kathryn Oliver is a Provost Fellow in Knowledge and Policy networks, joining STEaPP in May 2014. She is a social scientist with a background in health policy and network analysis, and her work uses a range of empirical and conceptual lenses to understand policy making and the role of evidence and individuals. She has organized conference events for the University of Manchester, and the Society for Social Medicine.

Franziska Keller is a Global Research Initiative Fellow at the Washington campus of New York University, a New China Scholar at the University of Chicago's Center in Beijing. Her research uses Social Network Analysis to conceptualize informal institutions and understand elite politics in authoritarian regimes and other opaque environments.

Mario Diana is professor of Sociology at the University of Trento, that he joined in 2001 and where he served as head of the Department of Sociology and social research and as dean of the Faculty of Sociology. Earlier, he was Chair of Sociology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (1996-2001), where he served as head of the Department of Government and co-convenes the Political Networks Section for the ECPR.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P095Elite Networks View Panel Details
P266Policy Networks View Panel Details
P350Social Media and Social Movements View Panel Details
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