Cultural differences and collective action: A social network perspective

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Abstract

This study investigates how cultural differences on the individualism–collectivism (I–C) dimension of social networks influence the outcomes of collective action. Evidence shows that I–C values are indicators of how people construct their social networks and use strong/weak ties as a behavioral reference. Specifically, when compared with individualists, collectivists tend to hold larger strong-tie networks and endow strong ties with greater interpersonal influence. Results obtained from agent-based modeling indicate that individualistic cultures are more effective at propagating collective action when one of the two following conditions is met: (1) people have a strong motivation to participate and (2) the connectivity of the social system is low. In contrast, spread of collective action in collectivistic cultures is more effective when motivation is not strong and the connectivity of the social system is high. These findings call for a serious consideration of the role of culture in collective action. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity 20: 68–77, 2015

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