Orrery Consulting, Prins Hendrikkade 160, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The instrumental use of social networks has become a central tenet of international health policy and advocacy since the Millennium project. In asking, ‘How to facilitate social contagion?’, Karl Blanchet of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine therefore reflects not only on the recent success, but also hints to growing challenges; the tactics of partnerships, alliances and platforms no longer seem to be delivering at the same rate and maybe reversing. A better understanding of how social networks work may therefore be needed to strengthen a tactical instrument that has been used to remarkable recent effect. But in focusing on the unbounded rhetoric and narrative options of Global Health, the danger will surely be on missing the fundamental factors constraining network growth. Future growth will depend on understanding these constraints, and Global Health may do well to think of social networks not only instrumentally, but also analytically in terms of the strategic contexts and environments in which such instruments are deployed.
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