I am moved by the subject "Networks in the current global situation" to recall to your attention a couple of works from a quarter-century ago that are relevant to the questions Ainhoa de Federico raises now.  One is a paper in World Issues entitled "The Basic Paradigm of a Future Socio-Cultural System," by anthropologist Virginia Hine.  Another is my own article, "The Supranational Organization of Production: An Evolutionary Perspective," which Hine referred to as having provided insight into the true nature of the emergent supranational level of social organization that she and Luther Gerlach were studying.  Hines' paper is in World Issues (Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, UCSB) 1977, April/May issue, pp 19-22.  Mine is in Current Anthropology, Volume 18 No. 4 (Dec, 1977), 615-635.  Although neither Hine nor I used formal network analysis, both depend heavily on the network perspective.


Hine was reporting on studies of worldwide movements to effect social structural change.  With Luther Gerlach, she had found these movements have a structural form that they  came to refer to as a SP(I)N, for "Segmented Polycephalous (Idea) Network."  "An organizational chart of a SP(I)N would look like a badly knotted fishnet with a multitude of nodes or cells of varying sizes, each linked to all the others either directly or indirectly. Some of those cells within the network would in themselves be hierarchically organized bureaucracies recognized by the public as regional, national, or even international organizations"(p.19). 


 Mown article argues that we are at a critical point in an evolutionary generative process by which a new system at a hierarchically superior level comes into existence.  It involves ". . . previously existing units and subunits changing their relations with one another and changing their internal structure gradually until, at some point, all the internal and external relations are different enough that the new interdependency is recognized as a system at a higher level of integration.  One of the factors triggering the coalescence of a system at the supranational level now is certainly the capability for instantaneous worldwide communication and the processing of myriad bits of information that previously would have taken months or could not have been done at all"(p.633). 


My article is available through JSTOR.  The JSTOR address, if it helps, is:


I couldn't find Hine's article on the web, but I have it as:


More recently, I wrote on Anthropological Contributions to Conflict Resolution in 1996:

and then a piece in the Anthropology Newsletter in 2001:

but I think homo sapiens would be better served to take the long, evolutionary view, instead of focusing entirely on current events.


--Alvin Wolfe

-----Original Message-----
From: Ainhoa de Federico [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 3:58 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Networks in the current global situation

Dear colleagues,

I have to say that I am surprised of the apparent apathy on this list about the current situation in the world. Maybe members are expressing their concern as citizens elsewhere otherwise. However I think that from our position of  scientists (and scientists-citizens) we also have something to say.

As for me, as much as I felt and expressed sympathy after September 11th to the people in the United States, I cannot keep myself from thinking that I am also connected to the innocent people who are already suffering the consequences of the war in Iraq. If we think of the world as a global network, as a small world, I don't see why the "six degrees of separation" between two human beings should be morally different in any direction.

As much as there was some discussion on terrorist networks after September 11th, I would be very interested to read (to keep in the scientific academic topic that concerns this list) what this community has to say about for example:

- How in such a short time so many people all over the world have coordinated their action to manifest and protest against the war and for peace? What kind of networks arrangements have allowed for that?

- Given that some governments are deaf to the public opinions in their countries (the president of Spain supports the war while 92% of the population is against it, of the percentage of US citizens who have a position on the war there are more who are against it than for it -according to how can civil society enhance their collective action to make more effective pressure on their politicians? What is the gap in the networks between the elite and the rest of the population? How about these same questions at the level of networks of countries, how can lateral pressure of (many more) countries be more effective towards more powerful (few) central actors?

- How is humanitarian action most effectively organized? What networks ensure best participation and distribution?

- What kind of actors' (individuals, organizations) daily behavior in the existing networks, what kind of terms of exchange would ensure a more equitable distribution of power and wealth across the globe? How to obtain more horizontal networks?

These are just a few examples. I am sure that the creative scholars of this community have many more relevant questions about networks in the current global situation and maybe even answers to some of them.
I think that any of the questions this war rises has more societal relevance than much of what we -at least I speak for myself- are working on. We have the privilege to have more resources to be aware of the world than most, and to have so many possibilities to think and express our thoughts. Ladies and gentlemen, please, let's use them, in the academy, elsewhere, maybe we can make our part of difference to avoid more horror in the world and instead obtain more peace.


Ainhoa de Federico
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2001 19:56:32 +0100
To: socnet
From: Ainhoa de Federico <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Sympathy and solidarity from Europe
Dear collegues,

I imagine the lack of messages in the list is due to attention focused to the tragic happenings in NY and Washington DC.
I know this is not the usual use of this list but the dreadful events are too horrible not to send you all our (I think I speak for many people) sympathy and solidairity from Europe.

Hoping that at least you and yours are fine,

Ainhoa de Federico


Ainhoa de Federico de la Rúa

PhD at
Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille (France)
Universidad Pública de Navarra (Spain)

Currently Marie Curie Fellow at the ICS-Groningen (The Netherlands):

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