About the Coherence-Based Modeling of Cultural Change and Political Violence (CCPV) project
In this research project we try to combine different methodologies - from such diverse fields as area studies, sociological theory, economic experiments and computer science - to better understand the dynamics of cultural change, ethnic boundary formation and emerging political violence. While detailed descriptions of the individual tasks can be found here, the following links lead to descriptions of core ideas of the project:
- A constructionist view on ethnicity: How ethnic boundary formation is socially constructed, not given.
- Complementary, not contradictory: How we integrate cultural with rational-choice approaches.
- Interdisciplinarity: How we combine the knowledge and methodologies of different disciplines.
This project will develop a prototype-level agent-based simulation system that will allow users to analyze the long-term effects of different policies on configurations of culture in specific localities of the world, and also predict the effect of this cultural change, in interaction with structural conditions and policies, upon the level and targets for violent collective action in such localities.
Theoretical construction of the model underlying the simulation will be based upon the integration of a number of social science approaches. Choice-theoretic modeling of collective action will be adopted, with preferences and beliefs informed in part by the grid-group framework for representing cultural differences. The coherence model of cultural change will be used to predict changes in culture over time, allowing for representation of mutual causality between attitudes, action, and external environment.
Determination of the parameters that allow the model to be applied to real-world societies will involve collection and coding of culture-specific information, as well as validation of the resulting parameter values. We will as a result be creating a database describing the characteristics of both active and latent ascriptively-defined groups. Among the methods for data collection will be a specially-designed virtual community web crawler that employs social network and cultural theories in its algorithms. Validation methods will include computer-mediated experiments performed with within-culture subjects in simulated environments.
A web crawler will be developed independently in Java as a data-gathering tool that can be used to analyze a wide range of social phenomena. Novel user interface design methods will be developed to allow the user to trace the relevant information and theories that led to the model’s conclusions, facilitating analysis of the effect of changes in assumptions on predicted outcomes.