The childhood activity that gives the model its name is a simple, abstract representation of sophisticated processes of social construction—much as the Prisoner's Dilemma is an abstract representation of collective action problems. Agents in the norm life cycle and in this model strive to behave appropriately (pick the "correct" number). Rather than being an objective criterion, the appropriate behavior is defined by the intersubjective social context (group outcome—in the model the social context is a single issue or policy area with multiple options) that in turn is constructed from the behaviors of the agents within it (aggregated choices of individual agents).
This model is not a 1:1 mapping of real norm emergence. Instead, the model is an abstraction of the norm life cycle. In order to better discuss what the model can tell us, let me be clear about some of what the model leaves out:
• No communication—agents interact indirectly through the
• The rules are contentless, except in their proximity to a prediction of 50.
• The model does not address how norm entrepreneurs convince agents.
• The model does not differentiate between powerful agents.
• All agents are affected by noise in the same way.
• The agents are not strategic.
• The agents are not ideological about the rules.
• There are no norm complexes.
• No competing norm entrepreneurs.
The impact of each of the subtractions from reality mentioned above can be investigated by altering the model. However, the current model is useful precisely because by abstracting or controlling for certain aspects of the "real" world, I am able to isolate exactly how norm entrepreneurs effect norm dynamics given the logic of the NLC. This model thus provides a baseline assessment of the NLC and the effects of norm entrepreneurs independent of other factors that may influence norm emergence and evolution. The model simplifies in order to get at the essential question of how and when can norm entrepreneurs influence norm dynamics? What are the boundary conditions for norm entrepre-neurship independent of the characteristics of the entrepreneur? The goal is to discern the conditions where we will be likely to see the emergence and evolution of social norms.
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