Applying network analysis to relational data from a survey conducted in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2002, the paper addresses how civil organisations work. That is, which are the distinct logics of action and internal interaction dynamics that organise the universe of those societal actors? In order to allow its systematic empirical treatment, the answering of such a question will be entirely relational and will be done through network analysis. This paper brings at least three interesting findings: firstly, there is a remarkable diffuse connectivity between São Paulo-based civil organisations; secondly, it is a highly hierarchised universe of actors where popular organisations, NGOs, and coordinating bodies occupy central positions, privileged by higher capability for action and choice, while clearly peripheral neighbourhood associations, community associations, and service non-profit organisations are dependent upon the former group and have limited options for action; thirdly, preferential links were found between certain types of organisations. Such links always follow the same direction: from peripheral organisations towards those with more reach and capability for action or, not surprisingly, from privileged organisations to other equally privileged ones.
IDS Working Paper No. 299, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK, 67 pp.