Paper to be presented at the Harvard Political Networks Conference, June 11-13, 2009.


This paper uses the methods of social network analysis to discover the structural patterns of cooperation that arose in response to a global human security problem. It does this by mapping compulsory and institutional power relations among actors of the construction of a human security transnational cooperative response network—the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004. By mapping the relationships at the system level of world politics, including individual states as well as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), transnational nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and/or think tanks, and transnational corporations (TNCs), this paper finds a third relation among these actors, namely, structural power. It also demonstrates how a new way of thinking about the constitution of system level world politics can produce knowledge not available to traditional methods by finding two striking results: first, the role played by an organization cannot always be predicted by reference to its attributes, and second, depending on the context, organizations of different types will play similar (structurally equivalent) roles. Finally, this paper compares the network formed in response to this disaster with the network that formed after a disaster of similar magnitude in the past.