Expiration period: 01. 10. 2021 ― 30. 09.  2024

Co-financier: Public Research Agency of the Republic of Slovenia (ARRS)

Participates in: Laboratory for Complex Systems and Data Sciences

Name of the project:

SLO: Synergistic integration of quantitative sociology and STEM fields to solve a critical social dilemma: Recognizing universality in social phenomena: examples of vaccination, migration and corruption

ANG: Synergistic Integration of Quantitative Sociology and STEM fields to resolve Critical Social Dilemma: the Cases of Vaccination, Migration, and Corruption

Type of project: Basic research project

Role of FIŠ: Applicant and leading partner


  • UM Faculty of Civil Engineering, Traffic Engineering and Architecture
  • UL Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Applied Social Studies in Nova Gorica

Project manager: prof. dr. Boris Podobnik


Brief content description of the project:

Conspiracy theories often have immediate effects on economic growth and can trigger even worse long-term economic effects. Democracy appears to be particularly vulnerable when society is divided into groups of comparable size but highly antagonistic. These social phenomena are usually described by tools developed in physics for systems approaching tipping points. Here, even a negligible shock can trigger a sudden phase transition that transforms the system into a completely different final state.

Human societies are generally complex systems, so whether different social phenomena vary widely or exhibit universality is crucial to their understanding. Universality is the property when in complex and natural systems there are some common properties of a large class of systems that are independent of the dynamic details of these individual systems. In this research, we focus on various social phenomena such as anti-vaccination, migration, and corruption, with the interesting goal of uncovering some form of universality, or more precisely, to determine whether there is a common underlying stochastic formalism that governs them. Where did we find the motivation to search for universality in social phenomena? Consider a pandemic in which the majority of a country’s population opposes vaccination. It is very important to identify the tipping point at which society will transition from a majority that opposes vaccination to a new majority that will strongly accept vaccination. Similarly, the transition from a more corrupt to a less corrupt state is desirable. Finally, if migration becomes large-scale and uncontrolled, potentially dangerous conflicts can arise and society can move from an equilibrium state where there is coexistence between natives and immigrants to a completely different equilibrium state characterized by antagonism and severe social conflicts. All the previous examples show a clear biphasic nature. However, the dynamics that control these processes, and whether the processes themselves are continuous or abrupt, are still not well understood. Needless to say, understanding the origins and prevention of adverse scenarios in human societies is crucial.

Quantitative modeling within the project will be based on the combined methods of evolutionary game theory and network science. This provides a flexible starting platform, as it analyzes the impact of a socio-economic incentive on rational actors, while the other monitors all possible actor-actor interactions within the population. The proposed research will set new standards for model realism—shaping the field for decades to come—by incorporating multiple layers of complexity. It is an interdisciplinary research project, both theoretical and empirical, which includes action in the professional fields of sociology, economics and complex systems with the help of concepts of network science (collective phenomena), statistical physics (tipping points and phase transitions) and evolutionary game theory (cooperative Nash- here’s the balance).

Project group at FIŠ:

  • prof. dr. Podobnik Boris (project manager)
  • Assoc. dr. Erman Nuša
  • Assoc. prof. dr. Mileva Boshkoska Biljana
  • Assoc. prof. dr. Parent Blaž
  • prof. dr. Shrekovski Rist
  • Assoc. prof. dr. Pigeon Tea
  • Grahek Marjeta
  • Jelena Joksimović
  • Mateja Lesar
  • Kenny Štorgel


Phases of the project

The project is implemented through 4 work packages (WPs) representing project phases:

WP1 Consolidation of the existing platform for modeling migration processes. We begin by reviewing existing models of migration processes, identifying models that are most suitable for investigating the current crisis in Europe. We will expand them (for now only based on a computational approach) by adding new elements according to our problem.

WP2 Collection of available and acquisition of new empirical data. In this WP, we will examine the non-computational aspects of the problem and form an overview of current social science approaches to the topic. In doing so, we will primarily rely on various theories of immigration and conducted survey research.

WP3 Collection of available and design of new neuroscientific results / experiments. Recent findings in neuroscience suggest that political attitudes have a proper place in the structure of the brain. These findings will also be included in the framework of our modeling, in addition to the results of new experiments using EEG methods (partner at FAMNIT), aimed at identifying aspects that have not yet been covered by previous research.

WP4 Fusion of all findings into a universal interdisciplinary model. In this final WP, we will synthesize the insights gained in the previous work packages into a universal model of immigration and integration that combines knowledge from different disciplines. Its final form will not be exclusively computer-based, but will include other aspects that go beyond the current (state of the art) knowledge. The input data of our model will include known micro and macro parameters about the individual immigration/integration process, and the result will be a prediction of social dynamics in the host society.

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