Why do transnational advocates select certain issues but not others for transnational advocacy attention? The research projects on this website aim to answer this question.
Operationalizing variation in advocacy network agendas is the research goal of Phase One of this project. This is being done through multi-coder qualitative analysis of advocacy network discourse within specific issue areas, as exemplified on advocacy network websites and in proceedings from agenda-setting activities in international fora. Websites within an issue area are identified using IssueCrawler, a co-link analysis tool developed by GovCom.org at University of Amsterdam. The advocacy content on these websites is then analyzed for indicators of which issues (such as child soldiers or sexual exploitation) appear within an issue area (such as children and armed conflict). This "web-sphere analysis" can then be triangulated using focus groups and in-depth interviews with activists recruited from the same organizations.

The text-data drawn from these various sources is then annotated using multiple coders with the assistance of University of Pittsburgh's Qualitative Data Analysis Program (QDAP). Three preliminary annotated datasets are now available on this site, for the networks around the Protection of Civilians (PoC) and Children and Armed Conflict (CaAC). Accessing these datasets requires Atlas.ti 5.0 qualitative data analysis software.
The PoC Dataset includes all web content from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website on the Protection of Civilians and linked documents; plus Security Council verbatim minutes, resolutions and reports between 1999 and 2004 on this issue. An analysis of this content is available in my article 'Women, Children and Other Vulnerable Groups: Gender, Strategic Frames and the Protection of Civilians as a Transnational Issue.' PDF

The second dataset is for the CaAC network. This data currently includes web content for a population of advocacy organizations linked on the Internet within two degrees of separation from the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. A folder containing web archives of the pages included in the CaAC dataset is also available for replication. A theory paper based on the preliminary results of this data  appeared in International Studies Quarterly in March 2007. PDF

The third dataset (WPS) on the “Women Peace and Security” network aims to further explore the relationship between online advocacy discourse and social discourse within real-space advocacy networks. We sought to measure the gap between the network/agenda as represented on the World Wide Web versus in the imagined communities described by transnational advocates themselves. The results from this pilot project will be presented at the International Studies Association Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA in March 2008.

Phase Two aimed to develop hypotheses to explain this variation. Our current goal is to code advocacy discourse both online and in conversational settings for indicators of factors hypothesized in the TAN literature to correspond to issue adoption by advocacy organizations. Focus groups in which advocates drawn from issue network organizations were asked general questions about the advocacy agenda and specific questions about an issue that is absent from that agenda (in this case, children born of wartime rape) provide a source of substantive and discursive clues as to why advocates construct certain problems as “issues” in transnational civil society. The annotated set of focus group transcripts is now online. The findings from this project are detailed in a research note in the Summer 2007 issue of International Organization. PDF

Phase Three aims to replicate this methodology on a wider set of cases. We have secured funding from the National Science Foundation’s Human and Social Dynamics Research Initiative to map out and study the issue agenda for the human rights network. This project will involve the use of web analysis to identify the network and track the issue agenda, triangulated by surveys and interview data with human rights activists; and focus groups to test hypotheses regarding the correlates of issue adoption in advocacy networks.
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