Network Analysis and Political Science

Posted: 12 May 2011

See all articles by Michael Ward

Michael Ward

Political Science

Katherine Stovel

University of Washington - Sociology

Audrey E. Sacks

University of Washington - Sociology; World Bank Institute

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

Political science is fascinated with networks. This fascination builds on networks' descriptive appeal, and descriptions of networks play a prominent role in recent forays into network analysis. For some time, quantitative research has included node-level measures of network characteristics in standard regression models, thereby incorporating network concepts into familiar models. This approach represents an early advance for the literature but may (a) ignore fundamental theoretical contributions that can be found in a more structurally oriented network perspective, (b) focus attention on superficial aspects of networks as they feed into empirical work, and (c) present the network perspective as a slight tweak to standard models that assume complete independence of all relevant actors. We argue that network analysis is more than a tweak to the status quo ante; rather, it offers a means of addressing one of the holy grails of the social sciences: effectively analyzing the interdependence and flows of influence among individuals, groups, and institutions.

Suggested Citation

Ward, Michael D. and Stovel, Katherine and Sacks, Audrey E., Network Analysis and Political Science (June 2011). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 14, pp. 245-264, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1839119 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.12.040907.115949

Michael D. Ward (Contact Author)

Political Science ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States
919-660-4373 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mdwardlab.com

Katherine Stovel

University of Washington - Sociology ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Audrey E. Sacks

University of Washington - Sociology ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

World Bank Institute ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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