"The Importance of Generative Models for Assessing Network Structure" Free Download

MATTHEW JAMES DENNY, Pennsylvania State University

Network representations, theories, and methods have emerged as a powerful framework for examining political phenomena at a systems level. This article illustrates the importance of specifying and testing theories about the structure of political networks at multiple levels, and the potential pitfalls of failing to model the processes by which these networks were generated. These pitfalls range from missing important alternative explanations for an observed network structure, to specifying a model which does not test the hypotheses that derive from the researcher’s theory. It then combines these insights into a general framework for assessing the structural properties of political networks. The framework is applied to re-specify an existing political science study that seeks to engage with network concepts. I find that the approach taken in this paper can dramatically affect inferences about the structure of a political system.


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