Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 3: Network theory and security governance
This chapter explores the potential for combining two theoretical frameworks or research agendas, namely security governance and social network theory. Since the introduction of complex interdependence theory and regime theory in the 1970s, international relations (IR) scholars have paid increasing attention to two facts about international relations: international policy outcomes are shaped by a variety of actors including, but not limited to, states; international cooperation has both formal and informal aspects. As a result, IR scholars have increasingly focused on the informal interactions that occur ‘behind the scenes’ in formal frameworks for rulemaking and implementation and that shape the ways in which formal rules are enacted and applied. Scholars have also studied informal relationships and practices as institutions in their own right – that is, as existing and operating independently of formal structures (see, for example, Brie and Stölting 2011: 20). Both forms of informal institutions have often been found to revolve around actors other than states. By and large, international security has not taken center stage in this scholarship. Owing to the high stakes involved, international security cooperation has traditionally been viewed, on theoretical grounds, as an area in which formal relationships predominate, and in which non-state actors play at most a marginal role (see Abbott and Snidal 2000: 440; Duffield 2006: 633–4; Jönsson 1986: 44–6; Kahler 2000: 555). In recent years, however, two strands of scholarship have emerged to challenge these assumptions.
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