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Network-centric peace: an application of network theory to violent conflicts.

Kramer, Reik (2014) Network-centric peace: an application of network theory to violent conflicts. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Social networks are complex adaptive systems made up of nodes - human beings - and the links between those nodes. The links in any given network provide individuals with goods and services necessary for survival, including the quest for meaning, narrative and identity. This thesis argues that social networks are not rapidly increasing in complexity (a common view) but that the process of making and breaking links, and the ability to observe and document such processes, has been accelerated and simplified by modern technology. It is this ability to observe the dynamics within networks, networks that are subject to constant and on-going change and evolution, which makes the study of networks useful. Most approaches to social network analysis focus on spoken and written communication along links between the nodes, but shared suffering or execution of violence, or the simple association with a narrative involving violence, is a powerful dynamic in networks. It is a dynamic which has thus far been largely overlooked, but one which has important implications for international relations. Violence creates a shared identity and provides guidance for the behaviour of individuals, but also destroys life. The thesis analyses the case studies of Lebanon and Afghanistan from these perspectives. Whilst most studies on the Lebanese Civil War argue that the outbreak of violent conflict was unavoidable due to domestic and regional antagonisms, these studies do not explain why and how the war ended in 1990 in circumstances where the same factors continued to exist yet suddenly with a relative absence of large-scale violence. In contrast, violence has plagued Afghanistan since the 1970s and shows no signs of abating. Violence here is not tied to a specific conflict but has become the defining form of communication between the various network actors. Network theory can be used to gain a deeper understanding of the causes of violent conflict as well as, importantly, the forces that maintain or limit violence. Once these forces are understood, they can be utilised in an effort to change the prevailing dynamics of violence within a network, and to initiate a more successful approach to peacebuilding efforts within violent conflicts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Reik Christian Kramer
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Coker, Christopher

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