Can extremism guarantee pluralism?

Floriana Gargiulo, Alberto Mazzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many models have been proposed to explain the opinion formation in a group of individuals; most of these models study the opinion propagation as the interaction between nodes/agents in a social network. Opinion formation is a very complex process and a realistic model should also take into account the important feedbacks that the opinions of the agents have on the structure of the social networks and on the characteristics of the opinion dynamics. In this paper we will show that associating to different agents different kind of interconnections and different interacting behaviour can lead to interesting scenarios, like the co-existence of several opinion clusters, namely pluralism. In our model agents have opinions uniformly and continuously distributed between two extremes. The social network is formed through a social aggregation mechanism including the segregation process of the extremists that results in many real communities. We show how this process affects opinion dynamics in the whole society. In the opinion evolution we consider the different predisposition of single individuals to interact and to to modify each other's opinions; we associate to each individual a different tolerance threshold, depending on its own opinion: extremists are less willing to interact with individuals with strongly different opinions and to change significantly their ideas. A general result is obtained: when there is no interaction restriction, the opinion always converges to uniformity, but the same is happening whenever a strong segregation process of the extremists occurs. Only when extremists are forming clusters but these clusters keep interacting with the rest of the society, the survival of a wide opinion range is guaranteed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJASSS
Volume11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Extremists
  • Opinion dynamics
  • Segregation

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Can extremism guarantee pluralism?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this