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Participatory approaches and simulation of social complexity

Abstract : This chapter provides an overview on the mutual support between two active trends in the study of complex social systems: participatory approaches and social simulations. It highlights the expectations which arise from this association, from increasing quality of social simulation model in capturing better social complexity, to improving the suitability of using social simulations. It considers both objectives of increasing knowledge, as well as of supporting policy making processes. If participation can help to improve models, simulation models are also expected to support participatory processes to extend and share available knowledge among participants. Technically, the association builds upon various trends from computer sciences, social and management sciences, including system dynamics. All these domains have already developed tools, protocols, and devices, making the way to implement “participatory modelling”. These allow better elicitation of knowledge, including this knowledge in models, building models as a collaborative process, making models user - friendly for lay people or stakeholders, and ensuring the possibility of proper use of simulation outcomes. However, as far as participation in the modelling process is concerned, existing examples show great diversity, which is inadequately acknowledged. We describe this diversity according to three dimensions: stages in the modelling process, degree of involvement and heterogeneity of stakeholders involved. All the possible settings do not give the same meaning nor the same level of empowerment to participants. The issue of control over dissemination of information through the display of simulation outcomes is particularly at stake. We then give two examples in natural resources management where simulation modelling and participatory approaches are jointly used: fire hazard management in a southern French metropolitan area, and domestic water supply on a Pacific atoll. Both explore various ways in involving stakeholders. Finally the paper points out the various roles participants can play in participatory modelling processes from knowledge providers to simulation users through knowledge brokers. We develop the case that participatory modelling is contingent to people, but also to time and available means. Each implementation must therefore be tuned to its context.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 11:42:16 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 2:38:11 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02598410, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00038089


O. Barreteau, P. Bots, K. Daniell, M. Etienne, P. Perez, et al.. Participatory approaches and simulation of social complexity. Simulating social complexity: a handbook ; Edmonds, B., Meyer, R. (Eds), Springer, pp.197-234, 2013, Understanding Complex Systems, 978-3-540-93812-5. ⟨hal-02598410⟩



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