Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Networks and Geography: An Inter-methodological Challenge

(How's that for an academic title?)

The question I hope to start this discussion with is this: What is the place of network theory in geography, human or otherwise? I'm thinking specifically about the traditional kind of social network analysis of, e.g., Wasserman, but other sorts of analyses would be looking at as well. Del Casino, et al., seem to approach this question in their introductory discussion of organizational and institutional relationships, but I'm more curious about how these approaches can be integrated in practice. So, that's one thing.

Secondly, I'd like to talk about the way place might influence the behavior of non-governmental actors such as think tanks. For all the (relatively legitimate) talk about "liberal enclaves," it doesn't appear that tight geographical cohesion is in any way helpful to the cause of disseminating liberal ideas through the pundit class, the media, Democratic legislators, etc. How might the dispersal of conservative authors factor in, when coupled with the high tendency of the think tanks themselves to congregate in places such as New York and Washington? How is someone like New Canaan, CT-native Ann Coulter able to be taken seriously when vilifying urban America and lionizing a "heartland" that, for her, has never been a reality? (And I should note that I absolutely disagree with Alterman's assessment of Coulter and Gary Aldrich as non-influential, fringe elements of the right-wing media machine. I think he focuses far too much on the paradigm-shifting nature of the Big Tomes of the movement, and doesn't look closely enough as the dissemination of talking points on a day-to-day basis.)

No comments: