Simulating social and economic specialization in small-scale agricultural societies

Denton Cockburn, Stefani A. Crabtree, Ziad Kobti, Timothy A. Kohler, R. Kyle Bocinsky

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    We introduce a model for agent specialization in small-scale human societies that incorporates planning based on social influence and economic state. Agents allocate their time among available tasks based on exchange, demand, competition from other agents, family needs, and previous experiences. Agents exchange and request goods using barter, balanced reciprocal exchange, and generalized reciprocal exchange. We use a weight-based reinforcement model for the allocation of resources among tasks. The Village Ecodynamics Project (VEP) area acts as our case study, and the work reported here extends previous versions of the VEP agent-based model ("Village"). This model simulates settlement and subsistence practices in Pueblo societies of the central Mesa Verde region between A.D. 600 and 1300. In the base model on which we build here, agents represent households seeking to minimize their caloric costs for obtaining enough calories, protein, fuel, and water from a landscape which is always changing due to both exogenous factors (climate) and human resource use. Compared to the baseline condition of no specialization, specialization in conjunction with barter increases population wealth, global population size, and degree of aggregation. Differences between scenarios for specialization in which agents use only a weight-based model for time allocation among tasks, and one in which they also consider social influence, are more subtle. The networks generated by barter in the latter scenario exhibit higher clustering coefficients, suggesting that social influence allows a few agents to assume particularly influential roles in the global exchange network.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJASSS
    Volume16
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2013

    Keywords

    • Agent-based modeling
    • Archaeology
    • Barter
    • Models of social influence
    • Social networks
    • Specialization

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Simulating social and economic specialization in small-scale agricultural societies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this