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 strong attention to the integration of theory and empirical data. Political networks are conceived of in a broad sense - as defined around political actors, events that are 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. This section proposal is endorsed by the Standing Group on Political Networks.
Based on successful past ECPR General Comference Sections, the Political Network Section includes the following panels:
Panel 1: Social Movement Networks in Times of Crisis
Chairs: Katia Pilati, Eva Fernandez Guzman
Discussants: Nina Eggert, Mario Diani
The last decade has seen a number of contentious actions that developed across Europe and beyond, part of which unleashed with the 2008 crisis. This panel aims to explore alliances and repertoires of actions by challengers active in contentious politics and/or groups operating in service and good provision addressing the economic, environmental, social, and political consequences of the economic crisis. The following dimensions of networks are expected to be explored: a) the nature of alliances: specifically, the types of ties; the types of alliance structures, and clustering effects between groups and services; b) the type of actors involved in the networks; c) the degree of contentiousness; and d) the frames and collective identities at stake within networks.
Panel 2: Comparing Political Networks
Chairs: Manuel Fischer, Petr Ocelík
Comparing political networks over time and space is a powerful strategy to support causal explanations on the antecedents or consequences of network structures. Comparisons over space can include cross-country comparisons or within-country comparisons across regions or policy sectors. Comparisons over time can include network observations at several discrete time points or can be based on the dynamic assessment of network evolution. Despite the potential benefit of such comparisons to our understanding of political networks, such research designs have remained rare. The panel thus invites papers with an explicit comparative research design related to any type of political networks.
Panel 3: Climate Policy Networks
Chairs: Maria Brockhaus, Monica de Gregorio
Climate change is a ‘wicked problem’ and a major challenge to governance and policymaking. A policy network analysis allows us to capture the complexities of formal institutional and informal linkages between diverse yet interdependent policy actors and enables us to explain how such arrangements shape climate change policymaking and policy implementation. The call is open to theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions to climate policy networks. We particularly welcome studies on multi-level governance, coalition politics, socio-ecological systems, as well as multi-layer, comparative, and longitudinal policy networks analyses.
Panel 4: Social Network Approaches to Environmental Issues and Contestation
Chair: Mark Stoddart
Discussant: Tuomas Ylä-Antilla
This panel will bring together innovative research that applies social network analysis (SNA) to environmental issues. Across the world, societies are grappling with cascading ecological crises. The global climate strikes, divestment movements, Extinction Rebellion and other new social movements are emerging to engage these issues, alongside more established environmental organizations. SNA offers a diverse range of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods analytical tools that help us better understand the processes of eco-political mobilization, contestation, and social change.
Panel 5: Complexity and Multiplexity – Exploring Subnational Climate Policy Networks
Chairs: Ulrike Zeigermann, Marlene Kammerer
Discussant: Keiichi Satoh
The goal of this panel is to explore the role of subnational actors for climate mitigation and adaptation policies; especially to broaden our understanding of the interactions of national, subnational, and local actors. Social network analysis (SNA) provides a valuable toolbox to explore such multiplex relationships between different actor types at different levels, but its traditional data collection techniques are also challenged by this complexity. This panel calls for substantive, theoretical, and methodological papers that apply SNA to subnational climate policy; contributions that explore interactions at more than one level are particularly welcomed.
Panel 6: From Texts to Networks: Semantic, Socio-Semantic, and Discourse Networks
Chair: Lukas Lehotský
Collecting data on political networks via organizational surveys is a considerable challenge. At the same time, large volumes of texts containing information on political actors and their relations are publicly available. This panel showcases research activities, which obtain discourse, semantic, and socio-semantic networks from text data, and shows how network research might benefit from approaches that 1) use text as database for political networks; 2) utilize various text analysis approaches to find ties between actors; or 3) combine text analysis with social networks.
Maria Brockhaus is Professor of International Forest Policy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. A large part of her mostly comparative research is concerned with forests’ role in climate change mitigation and questions of the political economy of deforestation, policy change, and policy networks in the Global South.
Petr Ocelík is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University. He uses SNA to the study of climate and energy policies in the Czech Republic.