Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte
* Ann Lane Informal networks have always existed as factors in international affairs. Since the 1970s, however, the information age has enabled dispersed, often small and isolated groups and individuals to connect, coordinate and act conjointly as never before. During the 1990s, prominent scholars in the United States argued that the greatest advantage in world affairs would fall to whoever succeeded in mastering the networked form since the processes of democratization and devolution which have expanded alongside the communications revolution have greatly multiplied the centres of power operating within societies and across them. While it is perhaps too soon to argue that the networked form will replace the traditional hierarchical form of organization in the course of the twenty-first century, the skills of identifying and manipulating informal networks are undoubtedly central to effective policy implementation.1 The informal variant of social networking is probably one of the oldest and most ubiquitous forms of conducting social and business transactions known to humankind. It underpins the ability of societies to trade and develop wealth; it enables societies to structure themselves socially in order to strengthen the society through development of elaborate social ties, and to facilitate the process of complex communications links within government and non-governmental organizations as well as to enable elements within each to evolve means of communication and transaction across institutional and even state boundaries. With growing sophistication, a society tends to formalize its relationships, ultimately eroding the ties of family and generating greater reliance on institutions. However, under the conditions...