Dimensions of Contention: Integrating Theoretical Perspectives on Power through Analysis of Contentious Political Network Field Dynamics

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Jeffrey BROADBENT, University of Minnesota, USA
The present paper explains a table of nine ideal-typical theoretical dimensions of influence/power and applies it to the empirical analysis of a social field of dynamic contention. The table systematizes and categorizes in current theoretical terms the widely different types of influence/power relations discovered in an ethnographic study of an environmental protest movement in Japan. The substantive data in the present analysis come from that study. The contentious field consists of the interactions among movements, adversaries and other organizations pursuing the opposed political goals of building or canceling a polluting industrial plant. In this case, the interactions stretch over a 27 year period. The nine dimensions of influence/power nestle in a table described, on the vertical axis, by the degree of malleability (structure/one-way agency/two-way agency) and the horizontal, by the degree of tangibility (material/social/symbolic). Each of the nine cells represents a type of influence/power as it could manifest in the relationship between any two organizations at a point in time in the contentious (27 year long) field. Limited to just those dyads that have some effect upon the final political outcome, the coding of the ethnographic data produces 256 of such dyadic Key Influence Relationships. of the influence/power relationship between any two organizations in the field. Using techniques of network analysis, the findings show that the structural weights of the different dimensions of influence/power paper transform over time as the field process continues. The different types of actors, including the protest movements, also come and go. The transformation pattern offers strategic moments for the exercise of agency by movements and other actors that can affect long term outcomes. This approach, Integrative Structurational Analysis (ISA), presents a new way to model the complex dynamics and statics of influence/power in the contentious political process from a multi-dimensional causal powers perspective.