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
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
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
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 –
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.