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Can Extremism Guarantee Pluralism?

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  • Floriana Gargiulo

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  • Alberto Mazzoni

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Abstract

Many models have been proposed to explain the opinion formation in a group of individuals; most of these models study the opinion propagation as the interaction between nodes/agents in a social network. Opinion formation is a very complex process and a realistic model should also take into account the important feedbacks that the opinions of the agents have on the structure of the social networks and on the characteristics of the opinion dynamics. In this paper we will show that associating to different agents different kind of interconnections and different interacting behaviour can lead to interesting scenarios, like the co-existence of several opinion clusters, namely pluralism. In our model agents have opinions uniformly and continuously distributed between two extremes. The social network is formed through a social aggregation mechanism including the segregation process of the extremists that results in many real communities. We show how this process affects opinion dynamics in the whole society. In the opinion evolution we consider the different predisposition of single individuals to interact and to to modify each other's opinions; we associate to each individual a different tolerance threshold, depending on its own opinion: extremists are less willing to interact with individuals with strongly different opinions and to change significantly their ideas. A general result is obtained: when there is no interaction restriction, the opinion always converges to uniformity, but the same is happening whenever a strong segregation process of the extremists occurs. Only when extremists are forming clusters but these clusters keep interacting with the rest of the society, the survival of a wide opinion range is guaranteed.

Suggested Citation

  • Floriana Gargiulo & Alberto Mazzoni, 2008. "Can Extremism Guarantee Pluralism?," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 11(4), pages 1-9.
  • Handle: RePEc:jas:jasssj:2008-14-2
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    File URL: http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/11/4/9/9.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Guillaume Deffuant & Frederic Amblard & Gérard Weisbuch, 2002. "How Can Extremism Prevail? a Study Based on the Relative Agreement Interaction Model," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 5(4), pages 1-1.
    2. D. Stauffer & S. Solomon, 2007. "Ising, Schelling and self-organising segregation," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 57(4), pages 473-479, June.
    3. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-493, May.
    4. Guillaume Deffuant, 2006. "Comparing Extremism Propagation Patterns in Continuous Opinion Models," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, vol. 9(3), pages 1-8.
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    Keywords

    Extremists; Segregation; Opinion Dynamics;

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