Dynamics of Social Group Competition: Modeling the Decline of Religious Affiliation

Condensed Matter journal club

Dynamics of Social Group Competition: Modeling the Decline of Religious Affiliation

  • Event time: 11:30am
  • Event date: 9th March 2012
  • Speaker: Dominic Russell (Formerly School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

Abstract

When social groups compete for members, the resulting dynamics may be understandable with mathematical models. We demonstrate that a simple ordinary differential equation (ODE) model is a good fit for religious shift by comparing it to a new international data set tracking religious nonaffiliation. We then generalize the model to include the possibility of nontrivial social interaction networks and examine the limiting case of a continuous system. Analytical and numerical predictions of this generalized system, which is robust to polarizing perturbations, match those of the original ODE model and justify its agreement with real-world data. The resulting predictions highlight possible causes of social shift and suggest future lines of research in both physics and sociology.
pdf version of paper

Authors

Daniel M. Abrams, Haley A. Yaple, Richard J. Wiener