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An Agent-Based Model of Centralized Institutions, Social Network Technology, and Revolution

Author

Listed:
  • Michael D. Makowsky

    (Center for Advanced Modeling of the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University)

  • Jared Rubin

    (Department of Economics, Chapman University)

Abstract

Recent uprisings in the Arab world consist of individuals revealing vastly different preferences than were expressed prior to the uprisings. This paper sheds light on the general mechanisms underlying large-scale social and institutional change. We employ an agent-based model to test the impact of authority centralization and social network technology on preference revelation and falsification, social protest, and institutional change. We find that the amount of social and institutional change is decreasing with authority centralization in simulations with low network range but is increasing with authority centralization in simulations with greater network range. The relationship between institutional change and social shocks is not linear, but rather is characterized by sharp discontinuities. The threshold at which a shock can �tip� a system towards institutional change is decreasing with the geographic reach of citizen social networks. Farther reaching social networks reduce the robustness and resilience of central authorities to change. This helps explain why highly centralized regimes frequently attempt to restrict information flows via the media and Internet. More generally, our results highlight the role that information and communication technology can play in triggering cascades of preference revelation and revolutionary activity in varying institutional regimes.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Makowsky & Jared Rubin, 2011. "An Agent-Based Model of Centralized Institutions, Social Network Technology, and Revolution," Working Papers 2011-05, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2011-05
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    File URL: http://webapps.towson.edu/cbe/economics/workingpapers/2011-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Makowsky, Michael D. & Smaldino, Paul E., 2016. "The evolution of power and the divergence of cooperative norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 75-88.
    2. Rubin, Jared, 2014. "Centralized institutions and cascades," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 340-357.
    3. Friedman, D. & Fan, J. & Gair, J. & Iyer, S. & Redlicki, B. & Velu, C., 2020. "A Simulation Study of How Religious Fundamentalism Takes Root," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 2089, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    preference falsification; revolution; protest; network technology; agent-based model.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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