Framework: Foundations for Theory and Policy

The conceptual framework of the ECIR research is anchored in the intersection principle, that is, the intersection of the layers of the Internet, the core of cyberspace, and the levels of analysis in the approach to international relations, described below.

The major result is the construction of an empirically based framework for connecting international relations and cyberspace. This allows us to utilize one overarching frame that spans both the cyber and the IR domains. This frame is rendered operational for different purposes using different methodologies.

The key elements of this framework are the layers of the Internet (core of cyberspace), and the levels of analysis (structure of the international relations).  The connection is made by the intersection between layers of the Internet and the levels of analysis in international relations. The overall outcome is the product of specific research activities. The result is the Cyber-IR Model.

The Core of Cyberspace – Layers of the Internet

Our starting point in the analysis of cyberspace is unbundling the architecture of the Internet, focusing on its layered structure. As defined, the Internet structure consists of physical, logical, information layers (with the operating actors) and “user” layers.  The latter refers to all users of the Internet irrespective of role and function.

  • Basic frame on layer structure of the Internet (Clark)
  • Comparisons of automated ontologies to understand how different scientific communities’ (engineers vs. social scientists) view and examine cyberspace and other derivative variables (Madnick and Choucri)
  • New method and tool for automated investigations of large bodies of scholarly publications to derive mappings of structures and processes reflected in scientific publications related to cyberspace (Madnick and Daw Elbait)

Structure of International Relations — Levels of Analysis

By analogy, we view the international system in terms of the characteristic features that operate at different levels of analysis. Generally, these levels are seen as the individual (the first level), aggregating to the state (the second level), organized in the international system of states and non-state actors (third level), and embedded in the global system (fourth level).  Traditionally, human activities were considered only in their social contexts. More recently, the field recognized all levels of analysis operate in and involve the social environment and the natural environment.

  • Literature review of cyberspace and international relations, spanning 10 years and 8 major journals. (Reardon and Choucri)
  • Theoretical framing of cyberspace as the third arena of human interactions in ECIR book. (Choucri)

The above provide critical resources that are then used for conceptual and theory-building purposes. The first key step is identification of the core theoretical construct.

Theoretical Construct - The Intersection Principle

The Intersection Principle refers to the core “rule” that we have developed in order to allow us to examine who does what, and who “gets what, when, and how”—the basic premises of politics, national and international.  It is defined as the intersection between the layers of the Internet and the levels of analysis in international relations.

Thus, application of the intersection principle allows us to identify the actors, functions-roles, actions, and target-goals.  It is derived from disaggregation of the Internet layers and international relations levels. This intersection anchor for the model of the Joint Cyber-IR System, depicted in simplified form in Figure below.   This is an important step in addressing the question mark in Figure below.

Frame of the Cyber-IR Model
Source: Choucri (2015)

Note that the Figure above is bracketed by two opposing pressures: system threats (conflicts, contentions, and violence) and system supports (governance, cooperation, collaboration). Note also that the central part of the Figure is unbundled in the Table below showing a simplified view of the intersection principle in matrix form.

Combining Cyberspace and International Relations.
Source: David Clark

A set of further results, based on then use of different methodologies, provided added details, insights and information about the structure and dynamics of joint Cyber-IR system intersection principle framing different. These include, for example,

  • Results of empirical application of SDM architecture generated published results that enhance understanding of the interconnections among elements of the joint Cyber-IR system in static and dynamic terms – (Vaishnav, Choucri, Clark). 

Framework of ECIR Multidisciplinary Research-In-Depth

The major product (and the derivative results) of the Core theme 1, is presented in Table 1 earlier -- integrated framework and model for the Joint Cyber-IR system – it is the core “whole” within and around which all other “individual” research activities cohered. The following Figure shows the “whole” in some detail. It includes many but not all of the research activities generated by the ECIR Project. These are presented in the following section is the most abbreviated form.  Given the publication record of ECIR (shown later on), we found it necessary to focus on the “big picture” rather that the individual results.

Framework for Exploring Cyber International Relation
Source: Choucri (2015)

The above figure provides a detailed articulation of the question mark highlighted in Figure 1. It also serves as a useful context within which to situate the research activities, singly or jointly.