Our class touched on an article written by Ann Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic, Adapting U.S. Policy in a Changing International System, to reinforce Manuel Castells’ definition of network-making power this week. Slaughter talks about how the world network has evolved into one where collaborative power dominates. While realists generally view states as the main players in network theory, Slaughter argues that the system is based on “a set of complex, networked interactions among many different government and social actors”. She states that the new network system is like a game of tennis: instead of choosing your actions independently, as in the game of chess, you must adapt and respond to changing circumstances. The world is now one of “diverse actors interacting with one another in many different ways and adapting to whatever circumstances arise as a result of that interaction”.
This argument would fall under Castells’ fourth part of his explanation of network power, network-making power. This power includes those who convene and setup the networks. It claims that these actors have power over the rest of the network since they facilitate it. Slaughter proposes that a diverse network of actors in constant interactions with one another constitutes the network-making power. This is exemplified in public diplomacy today. Various actors ranging from organizations that facilitate cross-border exchanges to international news outlets and public diplomacy foreign service officers all have specific roles in maintaining the network of relationships between states.
According to Castells, “networks have power in their capacity to construct meaning”. Along with network-making power, Castells defines the following as all working together to frame individual or collective minds.
Network power: as in formatting a letter; the standardization of the network, the protocols for how it is laid out.
Networking power: focuses on the actors in the network; the act of gatekeeping.
Gatekeepers are those who allow messages into the network; they control what information circulates through the network and how. For example, the average user of Microsoft Word can claim they know the program, but in reality only the creaters, the “gatekeepers”, know the coding behind how the program is shown on the computer and the processes it is able to complete.
Networked power: focused on the nodes in the network, how powers are situated as a node in a network of nodes; a node’s power is a property of the latticework it is in.
Castells reinforces throughout Communication Power that “networks have power in their capacity to construct meaning”. Each of these powers work together in the formation and maintenance of a network. The current collective state of network-making power, as Slaughter argues, is a force that countries need to tap into more. These networks made up of small and middle powers in combination with the large state powers create a stronger, more connected world better able to conquer all issues.