Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Defeating Milošević: The role of networked organizations and the internet in Serbia in the 1990s
by Tunnard, Christopher R., Ph.D., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), 2010, 354; 3422232
Abstract (Summary)

People in conflict areas are increasingly using new technologies to organize resistance networks and mount opposition to established organizations and régimes. While resistance movements are using these technologies in innovative ways (e.g., Twitter in Iran), no one really knows how effective or efficient they are. There is little research at the intersection of the relevant disciplines: social networks, social movements, and technology diffusion.

Much of the writing on resistance movements in the Internet era focuses on the paradigm-shifting role of the Internet (e.g., the Zapatistas in Mexico or the WTO Seattle demonstrations), but further analysis shows that the formation of social and organizational networks is what really changes the calculus. So the focus of future studies on the impact of technologies should be on their intermediate role as facilitators of network development, rather than their direct influence on the outcomes.

But how does one measure the impact of new technologies on the development of social networks and resistance movements? Drawing on data obtained from interviews with more than fifty principals in the Serbian resistance and an accompanying survey, I examine the “base case” of the Internet era: the development and eventual success of the Serbian resistance to Slobodan Milošević during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. First, I use social network analysis to depict and then to analyze the formation of informal networks, then communities of interest and resistance organizations, and finally, a united political resistance network, demonstrating how the resistance became more efficient as a result of technological innovation and penetration.

Then I then examine the impact of new ICTs on both organizational and individual effectiveness. To examine organizational effectiveness, I trace several important technology-enabled processes that enabled the opposition to take advantage of technological efficiencies to become much more effective. To assess effectiveness at the individual level, I present and discuss responses of survey participants to open-ended questions about their perceptions of the impact of technology on personal security and the war’s outcome.

This combined analysis results in a new and improved method for using SNA to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of small organizations linked by weak-tie, short-path computer and email connections and their ability to defeat much-larger adversaries. Researchers seeking new approaches to looking at technology-enabled resistance networks and assessing or measuring their efficiency and effectiveness can use this kind of analysis.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Babbitt, Eileen F.
Commitee: Henrikson, Alan K., O'Donnell, Shawn
School: Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University)
Department: Diplomacy, History, and Politics
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: East European Studies, Communication, International Relations
Keywords: Internet, Milosevic, Resistance movements, Serbia, Social networks
Publication Number: 3422232
ISBN: 978-1-124-20938-8
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