Network Structures and Non-State Actors
Non-state actors have become an important unit of analysis in international relations. The “constructivist” or “sociological turn” in contemporary international relations has facilitated researchers’ focus on actors other than the state. Researchers have supplanted the traditional focus on material variables of military and economic strength with the significance of ideas. Yet this study of non-state actors does not provide an adequate picture of how non-state actors function as a discrete unit of analysis; it is incomplete insofar as it lacks conceptualization of the material means that these actors utilize in political mobilization and claims-making. Cross-disciplinary research on the subject of non-state actors provides the means to address this shortfall and sheds light upon their structural characteristics. This research seeks to show that non-state actors tend to adopt a network structure favored by the new information and communications technologies. Using contemporary social theory, the present work aims to provide a dynamic elucidation of the role and function of technology in the contentious activity of non-state actors. This analysis attempts to balance out the work of constructivist researchers in international relations by examining technology’s significance in shaping the structural characteristics of non-state actors.