Applying Agent-based Simulation Software and Sociological Theory to Decision Making


Several case studies have been conducted, focusing on the Phillipines, Malaysia and Pakistan and applying a constructionist view on ethnicity formation to better understand ethnically motivated collective action and violence in these countries.


A Case Study in the Phillipines: The Bangsamoro Struggle for Self-Determintation, Caecilia Noble

"...the name Moro symbolizes national identity, power and belief in one true God." –S. Jubair (2004), A Nation under Endless Tyranny

The purpose of this case study is to identify the factors and ethnic boundaries that determine the ebb and flow of the Moro struggle for self-determination.  It covers four major parts and issues that form the critical history of the Bangsamoro struggle and the peace processes with the different administrations of the Philippine government through the years:a)  Islamization and the rise of Moro communities; b)  Muslims in the Philippines: Self-image and social image. c)    Revisiting the Moro armed struggle and the instruments of peace; d)   The on-going conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This paper submits that the sociological theories of ethnicity have customarily been divided between two approaches, the circumstantial, and primordial.  Circumstantial theories emphasize the instrumental basis of ethnicity, particularly the role of self-interested rational action, while primordial theories emphasize identity based on affective ties.  The interrelated processes that brought about the rise of the Moro communities are both primordial and circumstantial.  The political processes are circumstantial while the social processes are primordial.  This is demonstrated in the rise and differentiation of Moro communities.

The full working paper is available here.


The case of Malaysia: Changing lines of conflict, Kiran K. Sagoo

Since independence, Malaysia has had five notable incidents of conflicts with ethnic undertones. These were the conflicts in Pangkor in 1957, Penang in 1963, the May 1963 riots which centered in Kuala Lumpur, but also affected other urban centers, violence in Kampung Rawa, Penang in 1998 and Kampung Medan, Selangor in 2001 (Khoo 2004, Khoo 2005). Malay-Chinese ethnic tensions ran dangerously high in 1987 due to the economic recession in 1985-86 (Khoo, 2005: 217). While the first three conflicts involved Malay-Chinese relations, the latter two conflicts centered on Malay-Indian relations, with the Kampung Rawa incident having Hindu-Islam undertones.

Ethnicity is a crucial defining factor in Malaysia. While scholars have shifted away from the primordialist and circumstantialist approach to ethnicity, and approach race and ethnicity as socially constructed categories that evolve according to time and space, ethnicity plays out as being real and rigid in Malaysia. Malaysia’s current ethnic classifications of “Malay”, “Chinese”, “Indian” and “Others” mask the diversities of ethnicities within each category. Colonial immigration policies resulted in changing the demographic landscape that in turn contributed towards developing ethnic awareness. The development and implementation of censuses further contributed towards developing ethnicities and creating its boundaries.


Khoo, K.K. (2004), Still Waters Run Deep, New Straits Times, May 10, 2004

Khoo, B.T. (2005), Managing Ethnic Relations in Post-Crisis Malaysia and Indonesia: Lessons form the New Economic Policy? In Bangura, Y. and Rodolfo Stavenhagen (eds) in Racism and Public Policy in Developing States, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers



Note: More information regarding the case of Pakistan will be added shortly.