Java Statistical Classes
Home API Download Examples Articles About Contact

 JSC  CultureLab

This page introduces CultureLab - an example of a program developed using the JSC library. The program exists as an applet or as a stand-alone application that can be downloaded.

CultureLab implements the modelling of the dissemination of culture, as developed by Robert Axelrod. It covers the simple model described in Axelrod (1997a), plus several of the model extensions proposed in that article and in Axelrod’s Complexity of Cooperation Web Site. The program goes beyond Axelrod’s Full Cultural Model Pascal program in terms of model extensions, control and statistical analysis.

CultureLab provides the following extensions to Axelrod’s simple model.

Long distance interaction
The program offers a wide choice in defining the neighbourhoods of sites in which interactions take place, in terms of their shape, size, topology and random properties. Diamond or square shaped wrap-around neighbourhoods of any size can be specified. Interaction can be global (complete mixing), or probabilistically related to distance.
Cultural drift (mutation)
Spontaneous changes to sites’ cultures, akin to mutation in genetics, can be specified at various rates. This has been implemented as in Axelrod’s Full Cultural Model Pascal program.
The transmission of a common culture can be specified at various rates, simulating the effects of mass communication, such as printed books and television. This has been implemented as in Axelrod’s Full Cultural Model Pascal program.
Hierarchical status can be assigned to sites through the ordinal values of a feature. The probability of two sites interacting is then inversely proportional to their difference in status. This extension is motivated by simulating some aspects of Bourdieu’s social theory (Trigg, 2001; Trigg & Bertie, 2004).
Implementing the program in Java allows the modelling to be controlled through a modern graphical user interface. Java also provides platform-independent code and graphical displays. The program is available as an applet that can be run directly from this web site, or as a stand-alone application that can be downloaded from the Downloads page and installed on a Windows PC. Note that some features available in the stand-alone application are not available in the applet version due to the general security restrictions placed on applets running in web browsers. The applet version is also likely to be slower than the application version.

As Axelrod (1997b, Appendix B) has pointed out, using an object-orientated language makes the software easier to develop and modify, and Java was designed to be used over the World Wide Web.

The user is strongly advised to read Axelrod (1997a) before attempting to use CultureLab, so as to understand its basic concepts, and terminology.


Axelrod, R. (1997a). The dissemination of culture: A model with local convergence and global polarization. Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 41, 203 – 226.

Axelrod, R. (1997b). The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Trigg, A. B. (2001). Veblen, Bourdieu and conspicuous consumption. Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. XXXV, 99 – 115.

Trigg, A. B. and Bertie, A. J. (2004). Exploring Bourdieu using Social Simulation. For presentation to the Cultural Capital and Social Exclusion symposium, St Hugh’s College, Oxford.

Copyright © Andrew James Bertie, 2004, all rights reserved. Terms of use