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Analysis of transnational advocacy networks

The article mainly introduces the structure and formation of transnational advocacy networks, which are international-scale networks organized to promote “causes, principled ideas and norms”. Nowadays, these networks are especially important in debates over human rights, the environment, women, infant health and indigenous peoples.

The large-scale transnational advocacy networks emerge from networks in smaller scale. Major actors in such networks are NGOs, local social movements, the media and so on. And the connection among the actors is formed based on the flows of information, services and funds. It’s not surprising that such connection not only exists among the actors of a single network, but also exists among different networks within similar issue areas.For example, human rights organizations have joined the campaign for women’s rights to promote issues that both of them care about. The internetwork ties then form a larger network that benefits its participants by offering a platform for them to share information. Since the internetwork ties are mutually beneficial, more and more advocacy networks with shared values start to converge and eventually form international-scale advocacy networks. However, as the network gets larger and larger, it will include participants with different amount of resources and cultures. As a result, the relationship among its participants may have considerable tensions. To remain the stability, the network then needs to put more effort to deal with the internal tensions.

Transnational advocacy networks have very similar structures to the networks introduced in the lecture. The major actors, NGOs, the media and intergovernmental organization, are the nodes. The edges are the flows of information, services and funds among the nodes. And the frequency of the resource exchanges should reveal the strength of the ties among the nodes. The more frequent the exchange of resources between two actors, the stronger the connection between them should be. The internetwork connections can then be regarded as local bridges among groups of a network of advocacy networks, since the flow of information would be less frequent between two networks than between members of the same network. In lecture, we mention local bridges can be sources of new information. In this case, internetwork ties do provide the nodes on the two sides of the edges with new information and resources. Because of that, advocacy networks are motivated to seek networks with similar principled ideas to form the internetwork connection, even though the communication between networks may be costly. Let’s then consider the structural balance of the transnational advocacy network. For small-scale local advocacy networks, since the members share the same belief and passion, they are most likely to be structurally balanced and all of edges are positive. However, problems such as the unbalanced distribution of resource may gradually appear as the size of the network grows. When the advocacy network becomes transnational, as the article states, there will inevitably exist internal tensions, which indicates the existence of negative edges that can potentially make the overall network unbalanced. And this is the challenge of international-scale networks.



1. Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn Sikkink. “Transnational Advocacy Networks in International Politics.”        Perspectives on World Politics (1980): n. pag. Transnational Advocacy Networks in International and Regional Politics. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

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