Trade networks in West Africa: A social network approach

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    To date, most of the literature on trade networks in West Africa has considered networks in a metaphorical way. The aim of this paper is to go one step further by showing how social network analysis may be applied to the study of regional trade in West Africa. After a brief review of the literature, this exploratory paper investigates two main issues related to regional trade. We start by discussing how recent developments in regional trade in West Africa have contributed to challenging the social structure of traders. We then discuss the changes that have affected the spatiality of regional trade by looking at the influence of spatial location and geographic scale on traders’ abilities to trade. In both cases, we argue that the value of social network analysis in exploring how traders have progressively adapted to social and spatial changes in economic activities has been greatly underestimated. Our discussion is illustrated with the case of two trade networks located between Niger, Benin and Nigeria.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Modern African Studies
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)179-203
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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