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Is There a Physics of Society? January 10-12, 2008, Santa Fe NM

Organizers: Michelle Girvan (University of Maryland) and Aaron Clauset (Santa Fe Institute)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2:00 - 2:40 Lars-Erik Cederman (homepage)

Toward a non-equilibrium approach to political violence

This presentation surveys the application of non-equilibrium theory to conflict processes. Political scientists have traditionally conceived of warfare as an equilibrium phenomenon. However, since Richardson’s findings in the 1940s, we know that war sizes are power-law distributed, a finding that is hard to reconcile with traditional balance-of-power theory. Drawing on computational modeling, I suggest new research avenues that may help solve Richardson’s puzzle and derive a deeper and truly dynamic understanding of the mechanisms that drive conflict processes among and inside states.