Abstract for: A System Dynamics and Agent-Based Simulation Approach to Test Group-Level Theories of Political Violence

In the political violence scholarship, there is a gap in explaining how group-level dynamics cause mass political violence. There are several theories of why political groups become violent. Because of the qualitative nature of these theories and the feedback complexity of political violence, it is hard to test these theories against each other and against data. This paper describes an attempt to use a combination of system dynamics and agent-based modeling to create a simulation pitting rival theories of political violence against each other and against empirical data. The purpose of the research is theory testing: to see what theory or combination of theories best explains political violence. The paper provides an overview of the relevant theory and data. The paper then develops a dynamic hypothesis and a prototype hybrid Netlogo simulation of two theories, political opportunity and collective action.