Bollen, Kenneth A. (1995). Review of Nigel Gilbert and Jim Doran, Simulating Societies: The Computer Simulation of Social Phenomena. Social Forces, 74(2)
Simulating Societies grows out of an international symposium of the same name that was held in 1992 at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. The book has 12 papers by 23 contributors. Doran and Gilbert’s introductory chapter provides a definition and overview of simulation models. They use the collapse of Mayan society to illustrate some of the ideas. Despite the concrete example, the presentation tends to the abstract. Seror’s chapter provides an overview of different simulation strategies and their epistemological dimensions. Troitzsch’s chapter is more concrete. He examines the evolution of hunting and gathering, agrarian and industrial technologies in fragmented populations. Nowak and Latane describe a simulation program that explains how the attitudes in a population can change due to the strength immediacy of the attitudes and the number of people holding different or similar attitudes. The chapter by Penn and Dalton discusses urban traffic but has implications for the broader understanding of spatial factors on human behavior. The details and data of this chapter exceed those of earlier ones. An ant colony simulation is the subject of Drogoul and Feber’s chapter. Of most relevance to sociologists is their discussion of a method where macro behavior is built from micro behavior.
Bollen, Kenneth A.