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Between intentions and actions

In this video we will analyse what happened in the four villages and summarise the results. We will see how it is not so easy to predict what will hap
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SPEAKER: In this video, we will analyse the dynamics behind demonstrations in four small villages in Fruit county. We will see how it is not so easy to predict what will happen in a village by simply looking at individual characteristics, and how important it is to understand the mechanisms underneath. We will first have a look at the potential for protests in all four villages. In general, the lower the threshold of a single person, the more willing this person is to join a protest. So we could expect that if the thresholds in a certain village are lower than in another, there should be a bigger protest.
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If so, it could seem that average thresholds for these villages should tell us where to expect the biggest protests. So let’s have a look at the villages, starting from the one with the lowest average threshold. It seems that Limeborough is almost burning. So many people are eager to go, with an average threshold of below three. If we were responsible for public safety, we should probably pay more attention to this village than to the others. With an average threshold equal to 4.1, we would expect that in Mangobrook the protest should rather be smaller than in Limeborough. The average threshold is much higher, meaning that on average the inhabitants of this village are less willing to go.
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We could also expect even smaller demonstrations in Appleton and Berryville, with a threshold 4.4. If we look at those numbers, we could also predict that the inhabitants of those two left villages would probably behave similarly, as the average threshold for a protest is the same for both. Now let’s see how the process unfolds.
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Let’s start with Appleton. We have an initiator, Mary, who is joined by one person, and then another one, and eventually almost all inhabitants join the protest. In Appleton, Mary started an avalanche. She kind of unleashed the potential that was there. In Berryville, which had the same average threshold, there won’t be any protests. In this village, there was simply no initiator. There was no Mary who would go out and shout out her disapproval for the highway plan, so nobody came out to protest. Let’s go to Mangobrook. The same that happened in Appleton, happened here in an even more spectacular way. There were three initiators, and others, even those with high thresholds, followed them.
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The presence of initiators is absolutely crucial in collective actions. So how about Limeborough, the village with the biggest potential for protest? There was initiator there, but something else went wrong. The process started and stopped. Even though there was potential, there was this discrepancy between the initiator and the others, so the group of early-goers was not big enough. In this type of process, it’s important. So the difference between the potential, which is every threshold, and the final result is quite surprising. Lower average thresholds don’t always lead to bigger protests. And secondly, final outcomes in villages who have the same average threshold may be very different.
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So apart from the individual thresholds that form a potential for action, this is our big picture, we have to pay attention to some characteristics of the group– the presence of initiators, the size of the group of early-goers, and discrepancies. If we are dealing with social processes, it’s bound to be complicated. Individual characteristics are important, but we also have to pay attention to the mechanisms and to the characteristics of the group. If we study the mechanism of social behaviour, it helps us understand it a bit better and know better what is important.

In this video we will analyse what happened in the four villages and summarise the results. We will see how it is not so easy to predict what will happen in a village by simply looking at individual characteristics and how important it is to understand the mechanisms in between.

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People, Networks and Neighbours: Understanding Social Dynamics

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