Writings on Relative Deprivation and Happiness


// Agent-based Computational Analysis of the Relative Deprivation Mechanisms
 
 

In 2009, Mohamed Cherkaoui and Peter Hamilton edited a monumental Festschrift to celebrate the work of the French sociologist Raymond Boudon.


My contribution payed homage to Raymond Boudon by going back to his game-theoretic analysis of potential mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of relative deprivation. In particular, I translated Boudon’s original model into an agent-based computational model and performed an extensive sensitivity analysis (involving approximately 26,000 parameter combinations) of several variants of the model. The results confirm and extend Boudon’s original intuition (as well as Kosaka's and Yamaguchi's follows-up) according to which the classical, counter-intuitive aggregate patterns “more opportunities, more dissatisfied actors” only emerges in a specific region of the model’s parameter space. 

 
Read the paper --Manzo, G. (2009) “Boudon’s Model of Relative Deprivation Revisited”, in M. Cherkaoui & P. Hamilton (eds.) Raymond Boudon: A Life in Sociology, Oxford, Bardwell Press, vol. 3, part 3, ch. 46, 91-121. 
 
 
 
In 2008, I organized in collaboration with Pierre Demeulenaere an international conference on "social mechanisms and analytical sociology" at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. A selection of papers prepared for this conference was developped and turned into a book published at Cambridge University Press in 2011.
 
My contribution to this book represents a further step in the development of Boudon's original game-theoretic model of relative deprivation. Compared to the paper published in 2009, here I extended Boudon’s original model in two ways: 1/ I introduced a set of mechanisms that are assumed to drive the intensity of actors’ feelings of satisfaction; 2/ building on the sketched network-oriented analysis of relative deprivation by Ronald Burt (1982), I introduced dyadic ties among artificial agents in order to represent actors performing neighborhood-based comparisons rather than population-based comparisons. Results from an extensive sensitivity analysis (involving approximately 20,700 parameter combinations) of this extended version of the model demonstrated the flexibility of agent-based computational modeling for theory construction. The computational method allowed me to move from Boudon’s simplified game theoretic model to a preliminary unified theoretical framework in which it is possible to study, at the same time, A/ how many actors are satisfied/dissatisfied as well as how intensely they are satisfied/dissatisfied, B/ how population-based versus neighborhood-based comparisons interact, and C/ how both macro-rates and micro-feelings of satisfaction depend on the kind of social structure in which actors are embedded. 
 
Download the paper --Manzo, G. (2011) “Relative Deprivation in Silico: Agent-based Models and Causality in Analytical Sociology”, in P. Demeulenaere (ed.), Analytical Sociology and Social Mechanisms, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, ch. 13, 266-308.
 
 
 
A preliminary version of the paper published in the CUP book was translated in German, in the volume that Thomas Krön and Thomas Gründ edited on analytical sociology at Springer in 2010. The main difference between the English and the German version is that the former also contains a brief discussion of the sense in which agent-based modeling relates to causal analysis.
 
Read the paper (in German)--Manzo, G. (2010) “Populationsbasierte versus nachbarschaftsbasierte soziale Vergleiche. Ein agentenbasiertes Modell fur das Ausmas und die Gefuhle relativer Deprivation”, in T. Kron and T. Grund (eds.), Die Analytische Soziologie in der Diskussion, Wiesbaden, Vs Verlag, ch. 12, 265-299. 
 
 
 
 
// Regression-based, Empirical Analysis of Happiness Data   
 
In 2008, the French Academy for moral and political sciences provided the Groupe d'Etude des Méthodes de l'Analyse Sociologique de la Sorbonne (GEMASS) a grant to realize a survey on the perceptions of inequality and justice in France. The survey --labeled PISJ for "Perception des Inégalités et Sentiment de Justice"-- was realized in the fall 2009 on a sample of 1711 French residents representive of the French population aged 18 and more. The major results was published in a book edited in French by Olivier Galland et Michel Forsé at Armand Colin in 2011.
 
My contribution to the survey design and to the data analysis concerned the quantification of respondents' life satisfaction (or happiness) as well as the role of social comparisons in the perception of one's economic situation. My book chapter built on my previous formal-model-based analysis of relative deprivation to address the following question: to what extent is the positive correlation between individuals' income and individuals' life satisfaction mediated by individuals' perceptions of their close contacts' income? The regression-based results reported on in the paper suggest that high-income respondents tend to self-report higher level of satisfaction mainly because they structurally are less exposed to unfavorable social comparisons. 
 
Read the paper (in French)--Manzo, G. (2011) “Satisfaction personnelle, comparaisons et sentiments de justice”, in M. Forsé & O. Galland (eds.), , Paris, Armand Colin, ch. 16, 171-178.