Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte
Chapter 1: The Utility of Informal Networks to Policy-makers
* Alexander Evans MAPPING HUMAN TERRAIN On 7 May 2008 Michael Bhatia was killed by an improvised explosive device in Khost province, Afghanistan.1 A promising academic, he had studied at Brown University, USA and was researching a DPhil. in Afghan politics at Oxford. Bhatia was working in Afghanistan for a pilot programme run by the US Department of Defense that embeds social scientists with military units in order to take advantage of their expertise and experience.2 The $60 million programme has proven to be controversial,3 and some anthropologists have organized an on-line campaign against it that includes a pledge not to participate in counter-insurgency.4 But it underpins a transformation that is taking place in contemporary security policy as governments come to recognize that cultural and historical understanding remains as important as ever in forming, and delivering, effective policy.5 A systematic, evidence-based understanding of culture, language and history is essential to strong international policy-making. Indeed, an increasing emphasis in the US and Europe on evidence-based public policy, with new offshoots in areas such as behavioural economics, show how important this theme has become to government policy-making as a whole. This chapter sets out some of the ways in which informal networks matter to policy-makers – and how policy-makers can make better use of informal networks themselves. It briefly touches on four international case studies: China, Russia, Pakistan and Nigeria, demonstrating how informal networks are critical to understanding each of these societies. INFORMAL IS NORMAL Informal networks, and unofficial ways of doing things,...
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