Franziska Barbara Keller gave a talk today about her research on political networks in China. Franziska is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University. The title and abstract of her talk are below.
Networks of Power: How Social Network Analysis can tell us who will rule and who is really in charge in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Patronage networks are said to grant access to a regime’s inner circle, but only the ties to powerful leaders have been studied systematically. I examine the whole informal CCP elite network, noting who has been promoted under whom in the past. Coworker – but not province or alumni – ties to patrons double the chances of becoming a Politburo member, but links to former subordinates also have positive effects – unlike those to former superiors. I also show that we do not need to rely on contested insider information to identify the patrons first: popularity as coalition partner along network ties alone (closeness centrality) allows predicting Politburo appointments up to 10 years ahead. The patrons themselves hold (betweenness central) network positions from where they can more easily suppress challenges from within. The paper illustrates how social network analysis can add the “informal politics” dimension to the research on authoritarian regimes focused on formal institutions.