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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Construction Through Conflict: Computational Models of State Formation and National Identity

  • Author(s): Palley, Stephen
  • Advisor(s): Lohmann, Susanne
  • Stein, Arthur A
  • et al.

The surface of the Earth is divided into over 200 internationally recognized states, but

only a fraction of these are what could be called nation-states—that is, states whose

people generally agree that they are members of the same national group first and

foremost, and therefore consider themselves related to one another on an ideological

level. What binds people from different backgrounds into a cohesive nation that is

capable of effective collective action? In this dissertation, I develop two computational

models—the Territorial Resources Model and the Ideological Alliances Model—and use

them to test conflict-based theories of nation-state formation. I find these models generate

complex patterns of national consolidation similar to the historical record in both the

ancient and early Modern eras, suggesting that intergroup conflict is a good candidate

explanation for variance in modern state formation outcomes.

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