Astroturf to Choke Grassroots
Grassroots Organizing in the Age of Connectivity

Policy Sciences and Network-Centric Measurements

The Policy Sciences (Harold Lasswell’s A Pre-view of the Policy Sciences.) have been working for a 30 years to map the variables at play in a political struggle. The field (Lasswell and his followers,) has been trying to “map” the social process in an attempt to identify the dynamics at play so they can be negotiated and tracked in the open. The work has been hugely relevant for collaborative problem solving and successful negotiations (check Tim Clark’s Averting Extinction for an environmental application)

Those working on policy sciences seek to provide conceptual maps and procedures for documenting social process. They also try to provide an intellectual frame which helps examine the dynamics of every interaction, every social process as interaction in which participants seek to maximize advantage (gratifying outcomes) through the establishment and use of institutions that affect resources.

The policy sciences framework is useful in that it provides another layer of insight into the reasons to establish and maintain network-centric approach to advocacy. The policy sciences also provide a measurement matrix to monitor the impact of network-centric advocacy approach to power struggles. The policy sciences perspective all participants seek to build “values”. Those eight values are power, enlightenment, wealth, well-being, skill, affection, respect, and rectitude. They exchange those values (or draw on them) in order to achieve their objectives.

Network-centric advocacy is really about aggregating effects therefore it will wreak havoc with the typical exchanges developed by the policy sciences model. The connectivity of today’s society enables lots of players (thousands +) to actually participate in the decision process pitching in small tokens of power, skill, wealth, enlightenment etc. to realm to squeeze the process for a gratifying outcome. The network and defuse nature of the participation makes the contributions temporal and the network actors role and impact so dynamic that the context of the process won’t stabilize so typoical trades and power mapping becomes impossible.

Exploring this thought pattern farther may actually help differentiate network-centric advocacy from technoutopian theory. Hopefully, we can map the implications as we develop network-centric campaigns that target involvement into stakeholder / negotiation process.