Networks of Power: How Social Network Analysis can tell us who will rule, who will be purged, and who is really in charge in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

Location: 207 Knox Hall

Patronage networks are said to grant access to a regime's inner circle, but only the ties to powerful leaders have been studied systematically. I expand on this by examining the whole informal CCP elite network, noting who has been promoted under whom in the past. Ties to patrons indeed double the chances of becoming a Politburo member, but links to former subordinates also have positive eff ects - unlike those to former superiors. I also show that we do not need to rely on contested insider information to identify the patrons first: popularity as coalition partner along network ties alone (closeness centrality) allows predicting Politburo appointments up to 10 years ahead. The patrons themselves hold (betweenness central) network positions from where they can more easily suppress challenges from within. I conclude with an outlook on how network position influenced the timing of arrest during the recent anti-corruption campaign in China.

Fransizka Keller is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Columbia University's Harriman Insitute, specializing in Comparative Politics and Social Network Analysis (SNA). Applying SNA to informal institutions in authoritarian regimes, I explain why some elites become part of the inner circle while others get purged, how leaders can rule without holding official positions, and why being well-connected is sometimes less important than having well-connected friends.