The Political Networks Section aims to provide a multidisciplinary space of convergence for scholars that, while holding diverse research interests, share an analytic approach to network processes in political life, coupled with a strong attention to the integration of theory and empirical data. Political networks are here conceived in a broad sense - as defined around political actors (individuals, organizations and/or institutions), events that relevant to the political biographies of individuals as well as around the use of digital communication technologies within political dynamics. Thus, ties can consist of exchanges of resources, information, and symbols, as well as of collaborations and communications that may occur both on- and offline. Leaning on this overall framework, the Political Network Section includes following Panels:
Panel 1 - Environmental Policy Networks
Chairs: Karin Ingold and Manuel Fischer
Collaborative network governance configurations are especially prominent, but also rather complex in the environmental sector. In fact, the quality and efficiency of policy networks in the environmental sector does not only depend on the relations between actors dealing with resource governance, but also on the links between these actors and different types of ecological or environmental resources. Network concepts and methods are particularly appropriated for analysing governance configurations in the environmental field as well as to uncover the implications of the complex relationship between ecological resources and political actors. Hence, the Panel welcomes contributions that explicitly problematize the ecological and environmental context in which environmental policy networks develop thus encouraging in particular the application of two-mode or multi-level network analysis, connecting the modes of political actors and ecological resources.
Panel 2 – Social Movement, protest and participation networks
Chairs: Mario Diani and Nina Eggert
The network perspective has emerged in the last twenty years as a flexible and powerful tool to analyze the diversity, dynamics, and complexity of collective participation. In spite of its constant growth, relevant issues remain open to further investigation – such as the link between the political context and the structure of movement networks; the complex mix of organizational and individual agencies within collaboration and conflict structures; the progressive redefinition of mobilization predictors. The Panel invites applications of network analytic methods to the study of social movements, protest and participatory networks from a range of perspectives, from mechanisms of individual recruitment to inter-organizational alliances, cultural and discursive dynamics.
Panel 3 – Online and social media political networks
Chairs: Dimitris Christopoulos and Elena Pavan
The current political landscape is innervated by the systematic and strategic use of digital media – whether the focus is set on social movement and protest dynamics; multi-actor governance processes; or onto political campaign and electoral dynamics. The ubiquitous and recombinant nature of digital media urges researchers to maintain a flexible analytical approach, which finds in the collection and the systematic analysis of digital relational data a preferred entry point. In this context, the Panel welcomes papers that address substantial and/or methodological issues related to online and social media political networks, amongst which the entrenchment of political views, polarization, personalized political communication, and young people engagement; the deployment of power dynamics; the collection and analysis of large-scale digital datasets; the predictive potential of online exchange mapping.
Panel 4 - Network Experiments in the Social Sciences
Chair: Bernhard Kittel
Experimental work in sociology and economics has reveal considerable effect of network structures on distributions in groups. In political science, the emphasis of network analyses has been on peer effects on turnout and voting decisions, but few experiments have hitherto explored the effect of network structures on group decisions. We invite Papers reporting on experimental studies focusing on networks and their effects. Papers highlighting effects of structural power, asymmetric information, peer attitudes, and similar issues are welcome.