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ISSN: 2306-3483 (Online), 2071-8330 (Print)

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The network analysis of international relations: Overview of an emergent methodology

Vol. 14, No 3, 2021


Péter Kacziba


Department of Political Science and International Studies, 

University of Pécs, Hungary 

ORCID 0000-0002-9567-5363

The network analysis of international relations: Overview of an emergent methodology




Abstract. The increasing complexity of international sphere and transnational processes challenge the traditional methodologies of International Relations. The growing number of state and non-state actors and the increasingly rapid interactions among them demand the development of new methodologies by which the international complexity could be more traceable and analysable. This paper reviews the framework of network paradigm among the possible alternatives. It examines the history of social network analysis, outlines core concepts of the most important pioneers and authors in IR, as well as investigates the possibilities and limits of network methodology. The aim of the paper is to briefly introduce network analyses trends that began to transform the traditional research methodologies in the field of international studies and related fields, including geopolitics and geoeconomics. The study will use two reference networks developed by the author to demonstrate methodological alternatives and explain the most important options of disciplinary application. At the end, the paper will illustrate that, despite its existing limitations, the network approach is particularly useful for studying and understanding international interactions.


Received: December, 2020

1st Revision: February, 2021

Accepted: July, 2021


DOI: 10.14254/2071-8330.2021/14-3/10


JEL ClassificationD85, F50, F59

Keywordssocial network analysis, methodology, network approach of IR