A network-based microfoundation of Granovetter's threshold model for social tipping

Marc Wiedermann, E. Keith Smith, Jobst Heitzig, Jonathan F. Donges

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Nov 21, 2019
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Received Date: 29th October 19

Social tipping, where minorities trigger larger populations to engage in collective action, has been suggested as one key aspect in addressing contemporary global challenges. Here, we refine Granovetter's widely acknowledged theoretical threshold model of collective behavior as a numerical modelling tool for understanding social tipping processes and resolve issues that so far have hindered such applications. Based on real-world observations and social movement theory, we group the population into certain or potential actors, such that – in contrast to its original formulation – the model predicts non-trivial final shares of acting individuals. Then, we use a network cascade model to explain and analytically derive that previously hypothesized broad threshold distributions emerge if individuals become active via social interaction. Thus, through intuitive parameters and low dimensionality our refined model is adaptable to explain the likelihood of engaging in collective behavior where social tipping like processes emerge as saddle-node bifurcations and hysteresis.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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