Hierarchy in Mixed Relation Networks: Warfare Advantage and Resource Distribution in Simulated World-Systems*

By Apkarian, Jacob; Fletcher, Jesse B. et al. | Journal of Social Structure, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Hierarchy in Mixed Relation Networks: Warfare Advantage and Resource Distribution in Simulated World-Systems*


Apkarian, Jacob, Fletcher, Jesse B., Chase-Dunn, Christopher, Hanneman, Robert A., Journal of Social Structure


(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

World-systems theory (WST) and elementary theory (ET) both analyze power distributions in networks of actors engaging in different types of social relations. They are both network theories of interaction. WST focuses on intersocietal networks, where each node is a society, while ET focuses on interpersonal networks with nodes corresponding to individuals. Both theories analyze the types of connections between nodes. In WST, the ties linking nodes consist of warfare (the flow of force), migration (the flow of people), and trade (the flow of resources). ET takes a more general examination of social ties and argues that all ties fall into one of three categories: conflict, coercion, and exchange. Both theories look for and understand power in terms of the exploitation of some actors in the network by others as indicated by the flows and distribution of resources. Though the units of analyses are vastly divergent in scale, the goals and approaches of these theories are aligned. This paper attempts to demonstrate that micro-level insights used by social psychologists employing ET are applicable and useful for world-systems theorists.

Bridging these independent theories can advance both simultaneously. We build and analyze a series of simulation models containing interconnected societies. This allows us to apply micro-level theories regarding networks of individuals to macro-level actors. Though some world-systems researchers employ network analyses (Snyder and Kick 1979; Smith and White 1992; Alderson and Beckfield 2004), they do not explicitly explore the phenomenon of exclusion from interaction as a determinant of status in the global hierarchy. Our models also attempt to expand the scope of micro-level network theories by analyzing mixed networks of complex nonlinear nodes connected by multiple types of social relations. Additionally, we analyze heterogeneous networks composed of nodes with inherent differences in the attribute of resource capacity. Certain societal nodes are allowed to be more "resource rich" than others. This allows us to compare the influence of an actor's network position vs. the actor's attributes on their place in the power distribution.

Our simulation model examines how the connecting of nonlinear societal nodes by warfare, migration, and unequal trade influences the power distribution in an intersocietal network. We've borrowed the concepts of sanction flows and exclusion from ET to help interpret why and how stable hierarchies emerge. Introducing these micro-level theories of interaction to WST should advance future world- systems theorizing. Demonstrating that exclusion is a key determinant of power for complex nonlinear nodes that engage in mixed relation interaction (interaction containing different configurations of positive and negative sanction flows) should advance elementary theorizing as well. Ultimately, we conclude that exclusion from interaction is likely a structural, scale invariant mechanism that helps to determine power distributions above and beyond the inherent attributes of network actors.

Elementary Theory, Power, and Exclusion

Elementary theory views social structure as being made up of networks of actors connected by social relations. ET argues that there are three types of social relations based on the flow of sanctions between actors (Willer and Markovsky 1993). Sanctions are actions that influence the preference states of the actors, be it positively or negatively. When two actors that interact in a network both give and receive positive sanctions, this process is called exchange. When both actors give and receive negative sanctions, it is called conflict. Finally when one actor gives (or threatens) a negative sanction and receives a positive sanction, this is called coercion. Most of the theorizing and research based on ET focuses on exchange. There is an entire sub-discipline, network exchange theory (NET), devoted to pure exchange networks. …

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