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The Origin of Status Inequality: A Simulation-based Study

Gianluca Manzo, Sociology Sorbonne

Status hierarchies have the characteristic of being increasingly asymmetric distributions that, however, never turn into winner-take-all structures. In this paper we model the origin of status inequality as stemming from a myriad of deference gestures that actors exchange in their everyday interactions. We reproduce population-level patterns of status inequality by combining two micro-level mechanisms: reliance on other people’s judgment (social influence) triggers a process of cumulative advantage, while the desire of being reciprocated (symmetry concern) limits the amount of asymmetric deference. We re-implement in an agent-based computational framework Gould and Lynn et al.’s models of the origin of status hierarchies, and, building on them, we develop our own model. The latter improves on the realism of previous models by replacing a maximizing function with a heuristic-based decision-making process that is cognitively plausible, and implementing a realistic structural constraint to define the range of others ego interacts with. We extensively analyze the parameter space of all three models, document important inconsistencies of previous models, and conclude that our model better fulfills theoretical expectations concerning the independent and combined effect of the cumulative advantage and symmetry concern mechanisms.

Värdar för seminariet är Peter Hedström, David Sumpter och Fredrik Liljeros från Institutet för Framtidsstudier. Seminariet är gratis och äger rum kl. 12.30–14.00 på Institutet för Framtidsstudier, Holländargatan 13, Stockholm.

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