A Computational Model of Worker Protest
This paper presents an agent-based model of worker protest. Workers have varying degrees of grievance depending on the difference between their wage and the average of their neighbors. They protest with probabilities proportional to grievance, but are inhibited by the risk of being arrested â€“ which is determined by the ratio of coercive agents to probable rebels in the local area. We explore the effect of similarity perception on the dynamics of collective behavior. If workers are surrounded by more in-group members, they are more risk-taking; if surrounded by more out-group members, more risk-averse. Individual interest and group membership jointly affect patterns of workers protest: rhythm, frequency, strength, and duration of protest outbreaks. Results indicate that when wages are more unequally distributed, the previous outburst tends to suppress the next one, protests occur more frequently, and they become more intensive and persistent. Group identification does not seriously influence the frequency of local uprisings. Both their strength and duration, however, are negatively affected by the ingroup-outgroup assessment. The overall findings are valid when workers distinguish 'us' from 'them' through simple binary categorization, as well as when they perceive degrees of similarity and difference from their neighbors.
Volume (Year): 14 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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