||<Political Networks in Asia>Introduction: A Place for Networks in Asian Politics
Khoo, Boo TeikOnimaru, Takeshi
17 , 2016-04 , Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
This volume of essays explores the roles and significance of political networks in a variety of Asian—and particularly Southeast Asian—settings. The essays collectively have four modest aims. First, they set out to show that a "networks" approach can capture the dynamism and resilience of political interactions where actors are operating in different contexts. Second, the emphasis placed on networks of politics in this volume complements the wider attention that analysts based in anthropology, sociology, and economic development have paid to social networks within Asian studies. Third, the volume is intended to demonstrate that certain basic conditions of networks apply to different locales, times, and conditions. For example, communications and technologies, albeit very different in their development or sophistication over decades, remain crucial factors in networks. Finally, the essays collectively emphasize the roles of individuals and personalities in the formation of political networks. In quantitatively oriented network theory, the nodes and links of networks are taken to be interchangeable or display the same character. That does not hold in the realm of politics, where human agency may be uniquely important. Where he or she forms a node, each politician, activist, or comrade has a personal character, different from that of other nodes, such that their human interactions frequently shape the strength, influence, or effectiveness of the links among them. Thus, while two articles in this issue show some direct engagement with ideas developed by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi (2003), the investigation and analysis of actual political networks must go beyond abstract principles of network theories to a critical understanding of the personal peculiarities, ideological tendencies, and even career constraints of the actors involved.