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Are referendums a mechanism to turn our prejudices into rational choices?: An unfortunate answer from sociophysics

Abstract : This chapter shows that a referendum, whatever the issue at stake, is a mechanism to turn our prejudices and fears into rational choices. To predict the outcome requires identifying the prejudices and fears which are prominent at the moment the referendum takes place. The question of identifying which are the leading active beliefs and prejudices in case of a local debate is instrumental in understanding the unexpected machinery of public debate in driving the opinion dynamics against the initial majority of individually made choices. The chapter gives an overview of what sociophysics is. It presents the Galam model of opinion dynamics in detail. The chapter discusses the concept and effect of having a dynamic driven by a tipping point. It illustrates the counterintuitive features of the model and thus provides a basis to explain unexpected voting outcomes. The chapter contains some remarks about future developments of the sociophysics approach.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 3:08:46 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:59:53 PM

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Serge Galam. Are referendums a mechanism to turn our prejudices into rational choices?: An unfortunate answer from sociophysics. Laurence Morel; Matt Qvortrup. The Routledge Handbook to Referendums and Direct Democracy, Routledge, pp.334 - 347, 2018, 9781138209930. ⟨hal-02998451⟩

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