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Studying Networks Geographically: World Political Regionalization in the United Nations General Assembly (1985–2010)

Abstract : The study of networks from the viewpoint of a geographer does not mean studying geographical networks as technical infrastructures, especially when one is interested in geopolitical phenomena. It means that the relational nature of a given spatial phenomenon seems to demand a specific approach, that is, a network one, and that formalization via a graph (a set of nodes, a set of links between these nodes, and some attributes) allows discovering unrevealed aspects of a sociospatial fact. The study of networks often means adopting an interdisciplinary posture, applying tools and methods developed in other academic fields, and conducting solid conceptual analysis. For instance, whereas distance and centrality are useful concepts in both geography and social network analysis, their definition and implications for research remain quite different and need to be adapted from one academic field to another to remain efficient and relevant. This chapter presents results on the political regionalization process on a world scale, a process understood as the reinforcement of supranational structures based on geographical proximity. I presume that political actors, and especially state representatives in intergovernmental organizations, are constrained to work more and more often supranationally because of the globalization process, a process that can be understood neither solely nor primarily as an economic or financial phenomenon but rather as an increase in global issues demanding global responses and a gover-nance shift (e.g., global warming, migrations, and energy). Although much has been published on economic regionalization since the 1990s (e.g., Mansfield & Milner, 1999), the political aspects have been quite neglected, and when they are studied, especially in international relations, the approach is mainly qualitative and purely conceptual (Barnett & Duvall, 2005; Diehl, 2005). The approach investigated in this chapter is taken from the behavioral school of international relations: If political regionalization is occurring, it should be possible to measure it, produce indicators,
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Laurent Beauguitte. Studying Networks Geographically: World Political Regionalization in the United Nations General Assembly (1985–2010). Knowledge and Networks, pp.85-102, 2017, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-45023-0_5⟩. ⟨hal-02901632⟩

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