Structural Balance and Signed International Relations


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Journal of Social Structure

International Network for Social Network Analysis

Subject: Social Sciences


eISSN: 1529-1227





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VOLUME 16 , ISSUE 1 (December 2015) > List of articles

Structural Balance and Signed International Relations

Patrick Doreian / Andrej Mrvar

Citation Information : Journal of Social Structure. Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 1-49, DOI:

License : (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Published Online: 13-August-2019



We use balance theoretic ideas to study the dynamics of the international system of nations in a network of signed relations from 1946 through 1999. Using the Correlates of War data for this period, we apply pre-specified signed blockmodeling to characterize the fundamental structure of this network. Even though the system expanded greatly with many ties being created and/or destroyed, the basic structure remained the same but with new positions being added over time. The blockmodels generated temporal measures of imbalance, as did the counts of imbalanced triples. Regardless of using the line index of imbalance or the number of imbalanced 3-cycles, the results provided decisive evidence contradicting the balance theoretic hypothesis of signed networks moving towards balanced states. Structural balance theory remains very useful by pointing to the more important study of how and why signed networks move towards and away from balance at different points over time. Some major methodological problems for studying signed networks, regardless of whether they involve nations or human actors, were raised and addressed. Proposals for future research are suggested for modeling and understanding the dynamics of signed networks.

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