Is Resistance Futile? Maximising the Impact of Public Diplomacy on Social Media

Corneliu-BjolaBy Corneliu Bjola

One of the most sought-after metrics in social network analysis is influence. Finding out who the most important users are in the network and how they leverage their influence online is of great value for maximising the impact of one’s message on social networks.

Degree centrality (DG), which reflects the number of relations a user has, is one common tool used for gauging online influence and it comes in two forms: in-degree centrality, which is indicative of the number of users that may potentially retweet the node’s messages (how many users follow a node), and out-degree centrality, which reflects the number of users the node may potentially retweet (how many users the node follows).

The Eigenvector centrality indicator (EC) goes a step further. If DG asks how many people could retweet a message, EC gives a measure of the importance of those who retweet your message (Kumar et al: 31). The stronger the influence of one’s followers, the higher one’s Eigenvector centrality in the network. One can develop even more sophisticated measures of online influence by combining these indicators with the Klout score, which ranks users according to their aggregated influence on multiple social networks.

Degree centrality, in its various incarnations, is clearly a useful instrument for assessing online influence, one that needs to be properly understood and accurately measured if one’s digital message is to have a reasonable impact on social networks. At the same time, DG comes with a major limitation as its focus on influence projection takes little account of the possible sources of resistance in the information flow.

In other words, it matters to have your message projected widely by influential nodes, but it is equally important not to have your message obstructed or blocked by other nodes in your network.

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‘Am I Going to Eat Peace?’ – The Politics of Redistribution and Recognition in Women’s Peace Activism

Version 2By Simukai Chigudu

Global feminism is often seen as a progressive and emancipatory movement emanating from the West and fostering radical politics elsewhere in the world. Such a view is not only ethnocentric but, critically, it fails to engage with the complex ways in which feminist politics travel and are evinced in specific localities.

In this blog post, based on a recently published research article entitled ‘The Social Imaginaries of Women’s Peace Activism in Northern Uganda’, I seek to understand how marginalised women in the ‘Global South’ – particularly in Africa – interpret, experience and negotiate feminist ideas to wield political power in the context of their own social and moral worlds.

My case study focuses on an NGO – called Isis Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) – that mediates and helps to organise women’s peace activism in Northern Uganda. Based on extensive and in-depth interviews with a wide range of activists in the organisation and in its network in post-conflict areas of the country, I argue that Isis-WICCE pursues peace and justice along two axes: ‘redistribution’ and ‘recognition’. Continue reading

The benefits of more detailed poverty maps

MPI map Bangladesh_thumb

By Gisela Robles and Sabina Alkire, OPHI

The lenses through which we observe the appalling situation that the poor endure now have higher resolution than in the past for several countries. At a time when the Sustainable Development Goals urge countries to Leave No One Behind, the value-added of poverty maps that have higher levels of disaggregation is considerable. Such maps make it far easier to target poverty alleviation efforts and monitor progress. Let’s have a brief look at three countries, Bangladesh, Malawi and Yemen. Continue reading

Migration makes the Sustainable Development Goals agenda – time to celebrate?

OliverwebBy Oliver Bakewell

In September 2015, the United Nations published the final version of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This publication was the outcome of a long and complex process of consultation with a wide range of parties, including states, international organisations and many civil society groups from across the world. Given the importance of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the precursor to the SDGs, in influencing development agendas across the world, and which in turn had massive implications for resource allocations, there was a lot of concern about what should be included in the new SDGs. Groups coalesced around different interests and built lobbies to ensure their themes remained on the agenda.

One of these is what I will refer to as the migration and development lobby group. Among those working on migration in developing areas, there has been a growing clamour to bring the topic into the mainstream of development policy and practice. The main cheerleaders have been the International Organization for Migration (IOM) along with interested migration programme units in donor governments, UN agencies, the World Bank and an array of civil society organisations, in particular migrant rights and diaspora groups. In particular, there was great concern to ensure that the SDGs should take account of migration in some way, something the MDGs had failed to do. This stimulated a barrage of initiatives, workshops, debates and dialogues to find ways to insert migration into the SDGs. Continue reading

Religiosity and Muslim American Attitudes Towards Political Violence

Ali-ChaudhuryBy Ali Chaudhury

To what extent does the religion of Islam condone or promote the justification of suicide bombings?

While recent fears and tensions surrounding radical Islam are focussed on Europe in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, much of the “war on terror”-inspired policies and political rhetoric continue to flourish in the United States. Consequently, Muslims in the United States confront a growing anti-Muslim sentiment manifested in alarmist political rhetoric and verbal and physical abuse. Since the majority of Muslims in the US are foreign-born, this anti-Muslim backlash is further intertwined with a flourishing anti-immigrant rhetoric.

For instance, in the weeks since the Paris attacks, US presidential candidate Donald Trump has advocated for the creation of a national registry to monitor all Muslims in the US and halting efforts to take in Syrian refugees. In addition, several Muslims in American cities have been subjected to physical and verbal abuse – most recently the shooting of a Muslim taxi driver on Thanksgiving night in the American city of Pittsburgh. While these events reflect the popular and political tendencies to conflate Islam with terrorism, the assumption that Islam promotes or condones political violence is generally misunderstood. Continue reading

Will climate negotiations overcome the curse of unfulfilled expectations at COP21?

Corneliu-BjolaBy Corneliu Bjola

International negotiations are fundamentally nested games of expectations management. If the objectives are set too high and negotiations then fail to deliver, it would be quite difficult for the relevant parties to re-build momentum for another round (see the case of UNFCCC negotiations after COP15 in Copenhagen). If expectations are set too low, there is the risk that the negotiations will not be taken seriously, either by the parties or the public or by both.

Finding the right balance of expectations during a negotiation process is more an art than a science, not least because, as Kahneman and Tversky (1979) famously demonstrated, people have an irrational tendency to be less willing to gamble with profits than with losses. In other words, we value gains and losses differently and, as such, we prefer to base our decisions on perceived gains rather than perceived losses.

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Multidimensional Poverty Index adopted as a SDG Target Indicator

OPHI Director Sabina Alkire reports on progress made at the Bangkok meeting of the UN’s Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals

The Inter Agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators met for the second time in Bangkok, 26-28 October 2015. The purpose was to move towards the selection of the indicators that will be used and reported at a global level to track progress towards meeting the global goals. The animated and invigorating exchanges were wonderfully co-chaired by Dr Lisa Bersales (Philippines) and Dr Enrique Ordaz (Mexico).

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What can the private sector offer Indian education?

by Abhijeet Singh,Young Lives Research Officer

(An edited version of this blog was first published on Ideas 4 India on 28 October 2015)


Few things in education policy in developing countries are more contentious than what the role of the private sector should be. Much of the dispute comes from contrasting opinions about the nature of private schools as they exist today: should we think of them as offering a substantial route for actually delivering quality education for many millions of children, especially in the face of severely underperforming government schools? Or should we think of them as essentially thriving on ‘cream-skimming’ students from more privileged backgrounds, deepening social and economic divides but adding little in terms of actual skills and education. These are empirical questions. Here, I present some evidence, both from my own research and others’, that speaks to these issues directly in the Indian context. More importantly, I discuss the avenues which current research hasn’t focused on but which are critical for understanding how the private sector may best be leveraged in India.

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Una Nueva Ola de Países están Cambiando la Manera en que Miden la Pobreza

John Hammock, Co-Fundador, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

Ser pobre es ser pobre—independiente de la política, ideología, estadísticas y donantes. Los pobres sufren, no importa si viven en economías grandes o pequeñas, en estados poderosos o fracasados. Los más pobres tienen múltiples carencias al mismo tiempo—de un ingreso bajo a la falta de educación, vivienda inadecuada, mala salud, sin acceso a agua potable, alcantarillado—la lista de privaciones es larga, demasiada larga.

La perspectiva de los pobres muchas veces no se asemeja a las opiniones de expertos, de burócratas internacionales o de los que diseñan políticas públicas. Claro está que ser pobre significa no tener dinero—ingresos, ahorros, patrimonio. Pero desde las favelas, los tugurios, o de las aldea olvidadas en el campo, la pobreza es mucho, mucho más. El ingreso por sí solo no hace desaparecer la realidad sofocante que son las carencias enfrentadas todos los días por los que viven en pobreza.

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Why a New Wave of Countries are Changing the Way they Measure Poverty

By John Hammock, Co-Founder and Director of Outreach, Oxford Poverty and Human Development InitiativeJohnHammock-for-web

Poverty is poverty—regardless of politics, ideology, statistics and donors; people in poverty suffer regardless of whether they live in big economies, small economies, world-important economies, strong states or failed states. Those who are the poorest of the poor are deprived in multiple ways at the same time—from a lack of income to a lack of schooling, inadequate housing, bad health, no access to drinking water, poor sanitation…the list of deprivations for many is long, too long.

The view from the bottom often does not match the view of experts, national and international bureaucrats and policy makers. Clearly poverty is about having a lack of money—income, savings, assets. But from the favela, slum or from the forgotten rural village, poverty is much, much more—and income by itself cannot get rid of the grinding realities of deprivations faced daily.

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