School of Social and Political Science

Edinburgh Sociology Seminar: Tod Van Gunten

Seminar Series

Date & Time

October 6, 16:00-17:30


Seminars will take place online via Zoom. Links will be emailed to the Sociology mailing list.

Alternatively, email for the link



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Title: Where does power come from: Elite networks and the presidential succession in Mexico


Despite decades-long interest in power among network theorists, there are still relatively few studies of political elites that use relational network measures to investigate the emergence of power.  In the context of elite political networks, I conceptualize network positions not as power in themselves, but rather as resources in competition for power.  I develop a theoretical framework for analyzing leadership succession as a collective action problem, and derive network-based hypotheses about incumbents’ strategies for choosing a successor. The empirical analysis uses systematic network data to study the factors shaping the presidential succession in Mexico during a lengthy period of one-party rule under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).  Under this regime, incumbent presidents nominated the party’s candidate for the presidency, a choice that was tantamount to appointment to the presidency for decades.  Because all candidates (and a short list of viable alternatives known as ‘pre-candidates’) were members of the incumbent president’s cabinet, it is possible to estimate models of the likelihood of appointment conditional on network measures.  Findings indicate that both a measure brokerage capacity and of connective ‘depth’ are associated with higher probability of viability in the contest for the presidency.

Note: the seminar by Christopher Thorpe originally scheduled for this date has been postponed until Semester 2.

The Edinburgh Sociology Seminar Series is a weekly series convened by Dr Christopher Barrie. Seminars take the format of a 45-60 minute research talk followed by 30-45 minute Q&A. We look forward to welcoming you there!

Key speakers

  • Tod Van Gunten, University of Edinburgh