Political Power and Socio-Economic Inequality

This was the topic of my master's thesis in mathematics, and since I defended it successfully on July 25th, 2012, I now want to make it available here. Below are some remarks about the topic, but of course you're invited to read the thesis itself for the most elaborate and hopefully best discussion of the subject!

My motivation for this work was the clearly omnipresent phenomenon of social inequality. In my interpretation, one of the main reasons for the inequality in a society may be uneven distribution of political power (unequal distribution of economic means and in particular capital is more commonly studied, but I believe power takes also a key role).

Another motivation was the idea to apply thermodynamics to social sciences, since also in a society, macroscopic phenomena are built from microbehaviour of individuals. Although I did not know this in the beginning, this is already an existing topic usually called econophysics. While econophyics in general also deals with problems of modelling for instance stock market behaviour, I applied it to political economy which is a topic I'm very interested in.

The results of my modelling are quite interesting, as the combination of political power and economic variables inevitably leads to total inequality in what is the ground state in physical terms, and the system shows a first-order phase transition which breaks permutation symmetry between the individuals spontaneously between a phase of equality and one of inequality (with a single privileged individual that holds almost all power and almost all wealth).

Of course, I have available all the program code written for the simulation as well as the raw result data and the literature cited. Feel free to contact me both if you have any comments or questions, and also if you are interested in this additional material!


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