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Computational Approaches to Studying the Co-evolution of Networks and Behavior in Social Dilemmas by Rense Corten

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2

Consent or conflict: Co-evolution of coordination and networks*

2.1 Introduction

This chapter takes the first steps of the approach outlined in Chapter 1—specifying a model and deriving implications from this model using mathematical analysis and simulation. Substantively, this chapter revolves around the theme of coordination problems and social conflict and follows the following setup. First, I introduce coordination problems as a topic for social research, its relation to social conflicts, and discuss why it is important to model coordination problems as embedded in dynamic networks. Next, I introduce a formal game-theoretical model for such problems and derive some analytic results on stable states of this model. As is characteristic for this type of models, however, the analytic results leave many open questions. Therefore, the final step in this chapter is to apply computer simulation to further study the behavior of the model under different circumstances.

A long research tradition in sociology and social psychology has shown that social networks play an important mediating role in the diffusion of behaviors and opinions through a society. In many different contexts, people are influenced by those with whom they interact (Erickson 1988; Marsden and Friedkin 1993; Merton 1968). Empirical examples of such processes include peer pressure among adolescents (Davies and Kandel 1981), diffusion of innovations (Coleman et al. 1957; Valente 2005), rebellion, and collective action ...

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