Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, April 26 - 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research Hall, 3rd Floor

Title: Global Networks Over Time: Measuring Structural Power

Hilton Root, Professor
School of Public Policy
George Mason University


David Masad, PhD Student
Department of Computational Social Science
George Mason Univesity

Abstract: Recent research has described the decline of ‘power’, the ability of major international actors to coerce others to act in a specified way. Much of this research has been qualitative, and focused on particular interactions. We develop a novel methodology for studying the international system as a collection of complex networks, and attempt to understand the decline of power as a structural feature.

We examine three sets of global networks as they evolve over time: major arms transfers (SIPRI), international trade (UN COMTRADE) and the network produced by UN co-voting. By measuring the changes in different network metrics, we will determine if networks are qualitatively changing and becoming more or less hierarchical, resulting in the concentration or dispersion of influence. We examine centrality metrics for the United States and other major actors in order to measure how their position within the international system is changing. Finally, we will determine whether these networks are structurally similar to one another, with edges repeating across networks.

Using these tools, we will attempt to develop a methodology for policy recommendations, highlighting trends which are contributing to the rise or decline of power.