A closer look at current academic research suggests a sweeping paradigm shift towards network thinking. This outburst of scholarly activity spans very disparate research fields, ranging from complexity theories and traditional hard science to organizational theory and foreign affairs policy. Social movement research is not an exception to this trend. Influenced particularly by the analysis of social networks, current research in social movements uses network concepts and tools to define, map and understand the behavior of social movements.
This paper is an attempt to explain the different approaches to network theory, starting from the dominant perspective of social network analysis and its applications in social movement theory. To enrich this framework of analysis we further explain recent theoretical developments in other fields of enquiry. The goal is to clarify the notion of networks and map the field of networks research. This paper will further attempt to piece together elements from different approaches to furnish an integrated approach to the study of social movements. How do these developments affect the data sought and the questions asked by the researcher?
This will help us understand the theoretical and practical implications of the networks approach for our specific object of research, namely the anti-globalization movement and its relationship with the Internet.