Adaptive Agents, Political Institutions and Civic Traditions in Modern Italy
Long duration historical studies have been formative in shaping comparative analysis. Yet historical processes are notoriously difficult to study, and their findings equally difficult to validate empirically. In this paper, I take Robert Putnamâ€™s work on Civic Traditions in Modern Italy and attempt to bridge the gap between the studyâ€™s historical starting point and contemporary observations, using an agent-based model of social interaction. My use of a computational model to study historical processesâ€”in this case the inculcation and spread of social capitalâ€”supports Putnam's claim of path dependence. Moving beyond Putnamâ€™s study, my results indicate that the formation of civic (or uncivic) communities is not deterministic, that their emergence is sensitive to historical shocks, and that the absence of political boundaries lowers aggregate levels of civicness in regions characterized by effective institutions. In addition, the simulation suggests that minor improvement to ineffective institutionsâ€”making them moderately effectiveâ€”constitute a mid-level equilibrium trap with the least desirable social consequences.
Volume (Year): 6 (2003)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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