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Chapter

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Social Network Analysis  

The Significance of Relations

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

This chapter studies Social Network Analysis (SNA), which is a methods toolbox for analysing the patterning of social ties and explaining how and why those patterns emerge and what consequences they have for social actors. Social networks are ubiquitous in the social world, either unfolding in face-to-face interactions or digitally. In recent decades, SNA has grown in popularity, appealing broadly to students interested in complex social structures. The recent availability of data based on digital traces of social relations (e.g. emails or social media profiles) has further prompted students to study these network structures. Analysing how actors are connected through other actors via paths may indicate how e.g. information or resources flow through the network via these ties.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

18. Political participation  

Herbert Kitschelt and Philipp Rehm

This chapter examines four fundamental topics relating to political participation. First, it considers different modes of political participation such as social movements, interest groups, and political parties. Second, it analyses the determinants of political participation, focusing in particular on the paradox of collective action. Third, it explains political participation at the macro level in order to identify which contextual conditions are conducive to participation and the role of economic affluence in political participation. Finally, the chapter discusses political participation at the micro level. It shows that both formal associations and informal social networks, configured around family and friendship ties, supplement individual capacities to engage in political participation or compensate for weak capacities, so as to boost an individual’s probability to become politically active.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

18. Political Participation  

Herbert Kitschelt and Philipp Rehm

This chapter examines four fundamental questions relating to political participation. First, it considers different modes of political participation such as social movements, interest groups, and political parties. Second, it analyses the determinants of political participation, focusing in particular on the paradox of collective action. Third, it explains political participation at the macro-level in order to identify which contextual conditions are conducive to participation and the role of economic affluence in political participation. Finally, the chapter discusses political participation at the micro-level. It shows that both formal associations and informal social networks, configured around family and friendship ties, supplement individual capacities to engage in political participation or compensate for weak capacities, so as to boost an individual’s probability to become politically active.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

11. Social Capital and Civil Society  

Natalia Letki

This chapter examines the role of civil society and social capital in democratization processes. It begins by reconstructing the definitions of civil society and social capital in the context of political change, followed by an analysis of the ways in which civil society and social capital are functional for the initiation and consolidation of democracies. It then considers the relationship between civil society and attitudes of trust and reciprocity, the function of networks and associations in democratization, paradoxes of civil society and social capital in new democracies, and the main arguments cast against the idea that civic activism and attitudes are a necessary precondition for a modern democracy. The chapter argues that civil society and social capital and their relation to political and economic institutions are context specific.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

12. Social Movements and Contention in Democratization Processes  

Federico M. Rossi and Donatella della Porta

This chapter explores the relationship between social movements, trade unions, and transnational advocacy networks of resistance to non-democratic regimes in the global wave of democratization. It considers views from social movement studies within the democratization literature as well as views of democratization within the social movement literature. It also examines the diverse roles played by movements, depending on the type of democratization process and the stage in which mobilizations emerge (resistance, liberalization, transition to procedural democracy, consolidation, expansion). The chapter identifies a host of factors that produce the most favourable setting for democratization, including a non-syndical strike wave and/or a pro-democracy cycle of protest; increased political organization in urban areas, and a relatively dense resistance network; and the existence of pro-democratic elites able to integrate the demands for democracy coming from below (at least until transition is well initiated).

Book

Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Edited by Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

Research Methods in the Social Sciences features chapters that cover a wide range of concepts, methods, and theories. Each chapter begins with an introduction to a method, using real-world examples from a wide range of academic disciplines, before discussing the benefits and limitations of the approach, its current status in academic practice, and finally providing tips and advice on when and how to apply the method in research. The text covers both well-established concepts and emerging ideas, such as big data and network analysis, for qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Chapter

Cover The Institutions of the European Union

16. The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions:  

consultative institutions in a multichannel democracy

Gabriele Abels

This chapter investigates the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR), two bodies established in 1957 and 1992, respectively. Both Committees are consultative; their rationale is to provide expertise to EU legislators and to represent functional respectively territorial interests. These organs share a number of similarities with regard to their legal basis and policymaking influence. Both have pursued diverse activities beyond their official mandates in a quest to find their own identities and exercise voice in the EU system. This chapter analyses these committees with regard to their development, membership, and activities, illustrating how both embraced timely topics and seek to involve themselves in the larger debate on the future of Europe. Thereby, they contribute to the EU’s development as a complex, multilevel, and multichannel democracy.