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Groningen sociologists Mäs and Flache publish in leading journal of Computational Biology

25 October 2010
Together with Dirk Helbing from ETH Zürich, Michael Mäs and Andreas Flache from the department of sociology of the University of Groningen have published an article about "Individualization as Driving Force of Clustering Phenomena in Humans."
The article appeared in the leading journal "PLoS Computional Biology". Several theories have been developed to explain clustering in, for instance, multi-cellular organisms, ant colonies, bee hives, flocks of birds, schools of fish, and animal herds. A persistent puzzle, however, is the clustering of opinions in human population. The authors aim to explain why in modern societies we often see both a large degree of pluralism in opinions and consensus within "clusters"  or, groups, in society. They argue that existing formal theories of social influence have difficulty explaining this. Drawing on Durkheim's classical sociological thinking about individualization and social integration, they developed a computational model of opinion dynamics that added to existing models the new element of a "strive for uniqueness". The authors demonstrate how the new model can explain opinion clustering and identify the conditions under which their artificial society develops either consensus, or pluralism, or "anomie, a state of extreme individualism without a social structure.
(see also an article in German in ETH-Life)
Citation: Mäs M, Flache A, Helbing D (2010) Individualization as Driving Force of Clustering Phenomena in Humans. PLoS Comput Biol 6(10): e1000959. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000959
Last modified:07 August 2020 11.10 a.m.

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