Political Science, Department of


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This is a report on a long-term research project about the evolution of system of political organizations. An agent-based computer simulation model is developed with the aim of exploring the inter-connection between tools and concepts from the field of political science with the emerging field of complex systems analysis and the simulation of ecological processes. In political science, we can draw on the exchange theory of interest group formation as well as research on the so-called “ecology of organizations.” Many of the individual level premises that are implicit in the political models are made explicit by considering the interest group world as a complex adaptive system. Beginning from some basic premises individual-level premises about the way that individual agents behave and the process of organizational recruitment, the aim is to build a multi-level understanding of the process of political representation. While the development of the architecture of the simulation model has absorbed most of the effort up to this point, there are important substantive questions for which some answers are beginning to come into focus. Insights into the tendency of some organizations to take positions in the center of the ideological spectrum, while others are on the fringes, can be had from the model. The tendency of organizations to specialize their issue-stances in small “niches” can also be considered. The differences in mobilization and position-taking between different kinds of organizations can also be illustrated.