City Research Online

The Emergence of Consensus: a primer

Baronchelli, A. (2018). The Emergence of Consensus: a primer. Royal Society Open Science, 5(2), article number 172189. doi: 10.1098/rsos.172189


The origin of population-scale coordination has puzzled philosophers and scientists for centuries. Recently, game theory, evolutionary approaches and complex systems science have provided quantitative insights on the mechanisms of social consensus. This paper overviews the main dimensions over which the debate has unfolded and discusses some representative results, with a focus on those situations in which consensus emerges `spontaneously' in absence of centralised institutions. Covered topics include the macroscopic consequences of the different microscopic rules of behavioural contagion, the role of social networks, and the mechanisms that prevent the formation of a consensus or alter it after it has emerged. Special attention is devoted to the recent wave of experiments on the emergence of consensus in social systems.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: social consensus, spontaneous ordering, computational social science, network science, modelling, experiments
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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