Disruption of a Movement: A Network Analysis of the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto




Shue, Mitchell Y.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



To more accurately understand the impact of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on the democratization movement in Pakistan, this thesis study provides a network-oriented analysis of those individuals associated with her either personally, as participants in the movement, or in some other non-obvious way. By using publicly available news sources and data visualization software, this thesis shows the shape of the social network and identifies change agents, opinion leaders, and other actors and groups who might play key roles in the network. The analysis reveals what effect her assassination has had on the shape of the democratization network and on the network’s ability to recover, grow, and develop in order to advance the cause of democracy in Pakistan. While many individuals and small groups became detached from the network when the former Prime Minister was assassinated, based solely on topology, the surviving network showed no signs of imminent collapse or weakness. The subject of this study is intentionally narrow, but the implications and applications of this type of network-oriented analysis in the field of conflict analysis and resolution are numerous. By making use of well-known and widely accepted network theories, together with software tools and algorithms to visualize relationships between individuals and groups, researchers and practitioners can better understand what happens when key individuals and groups are added to or removed from a network. Will the network collapse? Can it repair itself? Will it grow at an increased or decreased rate? Answers to these types of questions form a basis of understanding that can help researchers and practitioners decide what tactical or strategic adjustments might be needed to continue or expand conflict resolution efforts and interventions, or perhaps to even anticipate conflict escalation.



Network, Bhutto, Democratization, Pakistan, Social movements, Network analysis