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Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics$
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Kanchan Chandra

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199893157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199893157.001.0001

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Modeling the Evolution of Ethnic Demography

Modeling the Evolution of Ethnic Demography

(p.277) 7 Modeling the Evolution of Ethnic Demography
Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

A. Maurits Van Der Veen

David D. Laitin

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces agent-based modeling as a tool for studying the dynamics of ethnic demography. Computer simulations using agent-based models allow us to advance the static Boulet and Chandra framework. This chapter demonstrates how core concepts in the constructivist agenda such as “stickiness” of attributes and “salience” of dimensions can be modeled as continuous variables that are mutually constitutive of identity shifts. It first presents simulations that investigate the relationship between the stickiness of a salient attribute and the longevity of leadership of ethnic entrepreneurs who build a constituency based upon identification with that attribute. Next, it applies the model to examine the relationship of electoral thresholds to the concentration of attributes in both ethnic and non-ethnic demographies. The simulations reveal that the electoral system is a significant intervening factor in both of these applications. The chapter concludes by discussing the advantages of agent-based models for analyzing multi-layered and complex interactions.

Keywords:   agent-based models, ethnic demographies, stickiness of ethnic attributes, salience of ethnic dimensions, constructivism

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