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I agree with the implication in previous messages that the
previous discussion of the anti-war movement was entirely appropriate and
professional. I think it is a crying shame if anybody bombarded anybody
with messages objecting to discussion of the anti-war movement and the
political context of the movement. In fact, I am most disturbed by the
possibility that some people might feel intimidated that there would be
adverse effects on their career to continue discussing these matters.
This has the appearance of "apolitical correctness", or repression of
politics which I believe is most undemocratic and hostile to the
scientific enterprise.
        Let me be more specific. There was a communication theorist, whose
name escapes me (Noelle-Newman?), who wrote about the phenomenon in Nazi
Germany of "pluralistic ignorance". When people are living in an
atmosphere where discussion of the political aspects of social life is
treated as "dangerous" they tend to underestimate the pluralism of
opinions (number of people who disagree with the official government or
big media "line"). When people are thus isolated, the opinions and
knowledge they have accumulated from previous experience are more
susceptible to being overpowered by the "official story". If people are
not watching the network news in isolation, however, independent thought
and analysis has a better chance of flourishing.
        Social network analysis is seen by many social scientists as being
excessively solopsistic(sp?) sophistry. Regardless of individual opinions
regarding current global events (which, from what I've read have only been
shared in the most professional way) I think most would agree that
intellectual freedom is at greatest risk in times of war. To leave
unchallenged any suggestion that discussion of the political aspects of
networks is inappropriate, is not only bad science, but could be starting
down a slippery slope where science serves only central power as it has in many
totalitarian societies.
        The "Honk for Peace" events that have been taking place in many
societies are another empirical example of how "pluralistic ignorance" can
be broken down. I've observed that for protesters "the first honk is
the hardest", but that once the first motorist honks in response to a
"honk for peace" sign, many more typically follow. Motorists are also more
likely to honk when the traffic begins moving. Perhaps because they fear
verbal abuse or dirty looks from neighboring motorists, or being
identified as "unpatriotic". Thus when they are less connected, more
isolated from others, they feel safer expressing their dissent against the
war When a whole wave begins where the majority of motorists honk, many
motorists have looks of outright elation or psychological liberation on
their faces. Of course this latter statement is only my own
interpretation, but I expect it would be backed up if interview data were
collected. This has implications for the veracity of polling data and the
importance of social networks involving outspoken dissidents.

-Roger Ehrlich

On Mon, 24 Mar 2003, Charles Kadushin wrote:

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> Applied research always helps to get the social network theory and method
> juices flowing -- whether the application is the Web itself, degrees of
> connections to second rate actors, the "Bank Wiring Room," mergers and
> acquisitions, innovation in bio-technology, corporate board relations, the
> spread of AIDS, terrorist organizations, and yes, even politics when the
> latter involves network behavior, as it surely does.
> Networks, of course, are always draped on the structures of social
> institutions. I fear, however, that Mark Grannovetter's usage of "embedded"
> has been taken over by some current applications outside the social network
> field.
> And to note one of my current concerns, all of this inevitably involves
> ethics, as Skye Bender-deMoll correctly noted in a recent posting.
> At 02:57 PM 3/24/03 -0600, Matt Bowler wrote:
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> >
> >Fellow Socnetters,
> >       As scientists should we not focus on the social network issues in
> > an independent manner rather than using this Listserv as a forum to
> > promote an agenda?  The social network questions are intriguing and
> > should be focused upon without propaganda.
> >Matt
> >
> >Wm. Matthew Bowler, Ph.D.
> >Assistant Professor
> >Department of Management
> >317G College of Business Administration
> >University of North Texas
> >PO Box 305429
> >Denton, TX 76203-5429
> >PH: 940.565.4487
> >FAX: 940.565.4394
> >
> > >>> Skye Bender-deMoll <[log in to unmask]> 03/24/03 02:46PM >>>
> >*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****
> >
> >Friends,
> >    Thanks to Carter Butts for the extensive citations.  As a person
> >who as been fairly active participant in the San Francisco anti-war
> >non-violent direct action campaign (I was arrested on the sidewalk in
> >a marching band and illegally detained by the SFPD for 22 hours over
> >the weekend), I can say that many of the activists are very aware of
> >"networky" ideas, and explicitly use them to construct and coordinate
> >their actions in a decentralized, non-hierarchical, consensus fashion.
> >
> >   One of the main organizing strategies is an "affinity group" model,
> >in which 5-20 individuals (usually strong ties) come together to work
> >on a small segment of the action with a particular tone and tactic in
> >mind.  Many individuals overlap with other groups, and there some
> >well defined roles  which are often common across groups
> >(communications, media contact, medic, facilitator, spokes-rep, legal
> >observer)  The groups generally have a strong commitment to direct
> >democracy and consensus process, meaning the entire group must be in
> >agreement to take action.  Often groups with a similar tatical aims
> >will coordinate to form a "cluster" or send representatives to a
> >"spokes council" which works to form consensus on event-wide
> >logistics coordination issues.  But because each group is fairly
> >autonomous, they are able to respond rapidly to changing conditions
> >in a robust fashion with fewer of the vulnerability (and elite/power
> >manipulation issues) of a centralized command structure.
> >
> >In addition, as many people on the list have already pointed out,
> >there are interesting aspects in terms of information and media as
> >well.  Because most people are in agreement that the major US media
> >outlets are acting as a fairly strong filter on international news
> >and information, many groups rely on the internet and direct
> >long-range communication links with activists groups world wide.
> >These are not necessarily weak ties, as many individuals here have
> >strong personal relations and work history with individuals in other
> >countries.  These strong trust relations make it possible to
> >circumvent the "gatekeepers" on media channels, and facilitates
> >strong solidarity actions and worldwide organizing.   Which is one
> >reason why many prefer to refer to all of this as the "global peace
> >and economic justice" movement rather than "anti-globalization" or
> >"anti-war" -  there is a great deal of "globalized" coordination
> >going on.  But this of course has interesting implications, as it
> >means that protesters are often operating on a completely different
> >set of "facts" and interpretations of events than those in the
> >"mainstream".  This tends to make "out group" communication difficult
> >often leads to confusion and misunderstanding when protesters attempt
> >to explain their actions and views.
> >
> >It seems to me that this is an exceptionally rich area for potential
> >study, however there are of course strong ethical considerations on
> >collecting data on groups and individuals who are at a serious risk
> >of being targeted by various law enforcement agencies.
> >
> >respectfully,
> >   -skye
> >
> > >
> > >Ferry Koster wrote:
> > >>As far as I have seen, the people that
> > >>demonstrated wanted to express their feelings about this war. For a large
> > >>part, the only thing organized where the time, the place and some of the
> > >>speakers. My point is that it is possible that network theory does not have
> > >>a lot to say about this.
> > >
> > >Even if the protest events are not formally organized, it does not
> > >follow that network theory has nothing to say.  (Quite the opposite, in
> > >fact -- these are the more interesting cases, at least to a
> > >sociologist.)  For a little of the past (formal) work in this area, you
> > >might want to see:
> >
> >--
> >--------------------------------
> >Skye's fone/Vmail: 650.853.0679
> >--------------------------------
> >
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