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Tensed Networks

Balancing and focusing network dynamics in response to networking diseases (Part #1)

Working paper for a meeting on networks (Geneva, October 1978) of the United Nations University project on Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (GPID) . Printed in Transnational Associations, 30,11 pp 480-483
Minimal requirements for network emergence
Unpleasant networking realities
Networking operations
Containing and focusing network dynamics
Tensed networks and social reality
Facilitating networking
Further work required

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The 1970s have seen the development of considerable enthusiasm for "network" building, whether among individuals or among groups and institutions. Much hope has been attached to this "alternative" vehicle for action following the failure of  "coordinating bodies" and "organizational systems" to respond to the perceived needs without imposing unwelcome forms of order. Recommendations to create a network are widely felt to be low-key, low-threat options in a variety of sensitive situations. As such they may also serve as convenient ("cosmetic") tokens of action where "effective" action is not considered possible.

The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the assumptions underlying the enthusiasm for networks and their operation in practice. It is hoped that such an exercise will identify some of the pitfalls of the network option and identify possibilities for improvements. entify some of the pitfalls of the network option and identify possibilities for improvements.