A Simulation Model of Cultural Consensus and Persistent Conflict

Shade T. Shutters, Bethany B. Cutts

In this study we develop a highly simplified simulation of diffusion through a structured society. By testing diffusion of a single arbitrary trait through different social network structures we show that the type of social network can significantly extend the time required for a population to reach consensus. This is especially true of small-world networks where conflict may persist far longer than in other network structures. In addition, we demonstrate that with simple dynamic linking rules, a network may evolve in such a way that consensus is inhibited altogether and ideological diversity becomes entrenched. To assess simulation results and inform future versions of the model we describe results from a real-world case study in which networked actors experience persistent conflict. While results of the case study align with simulation output, they also reveal areas for substantial improvement to the model.

Subjects: 7.1 Multi-Agent Systems; 15.1 Belief Revision

Submitted: Jun 20, 2008

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