Department of Computational Social Science Thesis Proposals/Defenses

Monday, May 2 - 10:30 am
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research 1, Third Floor


A Computational Theory of Endogenous Norm Change: The NormSim Agent-Based Model in MASON

Mark Rouleau

Department of Computational Social Science
George Mason University

The current study presents the NormSim Agent-Based Model in MASON. NormSim conducts an agent implementation and computational analysis of the International Relations theory of social constructivism. The purpose of NormSim is to formally validate and extend constructivist assumptions regarding the complex emergence and diffusion of social norms within the international system, such as the development of community norms within the European Union. NormSim explores the emergence of metastable norm dynamics through the interactions of heterogeneous and interdependent agents embedded within a complex social system. The goal is to explain how the social complexity of international relations generates metastability and how such metastability impacts the long run behavior of states. The use of ABM and the MASON simulation toolkit make it possible to explore this process from a formal experimental perspective. This is advantageous for constructivist research because it typically must rely on qualitative analysis alone to justify complex theoretical assumptions. NormSim demonstrates the use of ABM to validate the logical consistency of constructivist claims. It also shows that it is possible to extend constructivist logic to better understand why international norms lead to complex conformity patterns and long run systemic change. NormSim provides a general computational theory to explain this phenomenon.