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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:

Granovetter, Mark.  (1978).  “Threshold Models of Collective Behavior.”
  American Journal of Sociology, 83, 1420-1443.

Macy, Michael W.  (1991).  “Chains of Cooperation: Threshold Effects in
Collective Action.”  American Sociological Review, 56.

Macy, Michael W.  (1993).  "Social Learning and the Structure of
Collective Action."  Advances in Group Processes, 10, 1-35.

Glance, Natalie S. and Huberman, Bernardo A.  (1994).  "Social Dilemmas
and Fluid Organizations."  In K.M. Carley and M.J. Prietula (Eds),
Computational Organization Theory.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and

You might also ask how those who elect to protest have come by their
opinions, particularly given the primarly pro-war media barrage.  This,
too, is a matter on which network theory has much to say.  At risk of
dumping a long list on you (but it's such an _exciting_ list!), here's a
(small) sampling of what's available:

Burt, Ronald S.  (1987).  “Social Contagion and Innovaation: Cohesion
Versus Structural Equivalence.”  American Journal of Sociology, 92,

Butts, Carter.  (1998).  “A Bayesian Model of Panic in Belief.”
Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 4(4).

Carley, Kathleen M.  (1990).  "Group Stability: A Socio-Cognitive
Approach."  Advances in Group Processes, 7, 1-44.

Carley, Kathleen M.  (1991).  "A Theory of Group Stability."  American
Sociological Review, 56(3), 331-354.

Coleman, James, Katz, Elihu, and Menzel, Herbert.  (1957).  "The
Diffusion of an Innovation Among Physicians."  Sociometry, 20, 253-270.

Coleman, James, Katz, Elihu, and Menzel, Herbert.  (1966).  "The
Diffusion of an Innovation Among Physicians."  In Leinhardt (Ed.),
Social Networks: A Developing Paradigm.

Friedkin, Noah, and Cook, Karen.  (1990).  "Peer Group Influence."
Sociological Methods and Research, 19(1), 122-143.

Friedkin, Noah and Johnsen, Eugene C.  (1990).  "Social Influence and
Opinions."  Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 15, 193-206.

Krackhardt, David.  (1994).  "Endogenous Preferences: A Structural
Approach."  Working paper, H.J. Heinz III School of Public Policy and
Management, Carnegie Mellon University.

Krackhardt, David.  (1997).  "Organizational Viscosity and the Diffusion
of Controversial Innovations."  Journal of Mathematical Sociology,
22(2), 177-199.

Latane, Bibb.  (1996).  "Dynamic Social Impact: The Creation of Culture
by Communication."  Journal of Communication, 46(4), 13-25.

Latane, Bibb, and L'Herrou, Todd.  (1996).  "Spatial Clustering in the
Conformity Game: Dynamic Social Impact in Electronic Groups."  Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(6), 1218-1230.

Markovsky, Barry, and Thye, Shane.  (2001).  "Social Influences on
Paranormal Beliefs."  Sociological Perspectives, 44(1), 21-44.

Valente, Thomas W.  (1993).  “Diffusion of Innovations and Policy
Decision-Making.”  Journal of Communication, 43(1), 30-41.

Valente, Thomas W.  (1995).  Network Models of the Diffusion of
Innovations.  Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Valente, T.W., Kim, Y.M., Lettenmaier, C., Glass, W., and Dibba, Y.
(1994).  “Radio and the Promotion of Family Planning in the Gambia.”
International Perspectives on Family Planning, 20(3), 96-100.

        I've left out quite a few folx, but this should convey something of the
breadth of the kinds of models which are out there.  This is a domain
which has been rather extensively theorized by social networkers,
perhaps in excess of the available data.  (Most of these models have at
least some data backing them up, but to my knowledge there have been
relatively few head-to-head comparisons (partially, I think, due to a
divergence in the low-level assumptions about what is being modeled).
If someone's looking for a good project, this is a challenging
candidate!)  I'm sure that others here will have their own favorites, as
well...but, in any event, I think this is sufficient to speak to the
conjecture that network theory has little to say either about collective
behavior or about public opinion.  Hopefully, someone is gathering data
regarding the present conflict; it will be interesting to see how these
various models play out against reality.*


* Again, this is not to belittle the important empirical work which has
been (and is being) done.  It is merely the case that there is still
much to do.

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