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Homo Socionicus: a Case Study of Simulation Models of Norms

Martin Neumann
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 11 (4) 6

Abstract: This paper describes a survey of normative agent-based social simulation models. These models are examined from the perspective of the foundations of social theory. Agent-based modelling contributes to the research program of methodological individualism. Norms are a central concept in the role theoretic concept of action in the tradition of Durkheim and Parsons. This paper investigates to what extend normative agent-based models are able to capture the role theoretic concept of norms. Three methodological core problems are identified: the question of norm transmission, normative transformation of agents and what kind of analysis the models contribute. It can be shown that initially the models appeared only to address some of these problems rather than all of them simultaneously. More recent developments, however, show progress in that direction. However, the degree of resolution of intra agent processes remains too low for a comprehensive understanding of normative behaviour regulation.

Challenges in Modelling Social Conflicts: Grappling with Polysemy

Martin Neumann, Andreas Braun, Eva-Maria Heinke, Mehdi Saqalli and Armano Srbljinovic
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 14 (3) 9

Abstract: This discussion paper originates from the preceding annual workshop of the Special Interest Group on Social Conflict and Social Simulation (SIG-SCSS) of the ESSA. The workshop especially focused on the need to identify and examine challenges to modeling social conflicts. It turned out that the polysemous nature of social conflicts makes it very difficult to get a grasp of their complexity. In order to deal with this complexity, various dimensions have to be taken into consideration, beginning with the question of how to identify a conflict in the first place. Other dimensions include the relation of conflict and rationality and how to include non-rational factors into conflict models. This involves a conception of organized action. Finally, guiding principles for model development are being discussed. We would like to invite readers of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation to 'sow the seeds' of this debate.

Grounded Simulation

Martin Neumann
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 18 (1) 9

Abstract: This paper investigates the contribution of evidence-based modelling to grounded theory (GT). It is argued that evidence-based modelling provides additional sources to truly arrive at a theory through the inductive process of a Grounded Theory approach. This is shown by two examples. One example concerns the development of software ontologies of criminal organisations. The other example is a simulation model of escalation of ethno-nationalist conflicts. The first example concerns early to middle stages of the research process. The development of an ontology provides a tool for the process of theoretical coding in a GT approach. The second example shows stylised facts resulting from a simulation model of the escalation of ethno-nationalist conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. These reveal mechanisms of nationalist radicalisation. This provides additional credibility for the claim that evidence-based modelling assists to inductively generate a theory in a GT approach.

Simulation for Interpretation: A Methodology for Growing Virtual Cultures

Ulf Lotzmann and Martin Neumann
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 20 (3) 13

Abstract: Agent-based social simulation is well-known for generative explanations. Following the theory of thick description we extend the generative paradigm to interpretative research in cultural studies. Using the example of qualitative data about criminal culture, the paper describes a research process that facilitates interpretative research by growing virtual cultures. Relying on qualitative data for the development of agent rules, the research process combines several steps: Qualitative data analysis following the Grounded Theory paradigm enables concept identification, resulting in the development of a conceptual model of the concept relations. The software tool CCD is used in conceptual modelling which assists semi-automatic transformation in a simulation model developed in the simulation platform DRAMS. Both tools preserve traceability to the empirical evidence throughout the research process. Traceability enables interpretation of simulations by generating a narrative storyline of the simulation. Thereby simulation enables a qualitative exploration of textual data. The whole process generates a thick description of the subject of study, in our example criminal culture. The simulation is characterized by a socio-cognitive coupling of agents’ reasoning on the state of the mind of other agents. This reveals a thick description of how participants make sense of the phenomenology of a situation from the perspective of their worldview.