Category Cultural Theory

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Journal Articles

Modelling social norms of water conservation

Janssen, M.A.

2017 Nature Human Behavior 1: 624-625.


Global groundwater resources are threatened by over-extraction. Castilla-Rho et al. develop an agent-based model of irrigated agriculture based on cooperative and collective action theory, incorporating results from the World Values Survey. The model captures the cultural, socioeconomic, institutional and physical conditions that determine how likely people in different at-risk regions are to comply with regulations.


The battle of perspectives: a multi-agent model with adaptive responses to climate change

Janssen, M.A. and H.J.M. de Vries

1998 Ecological Economics 26(1): 43-65.


To evaluate possible futures with regard to economy, energy and climate, a multi-agent modelling approach is used. Agents hold different perspectives on how the world functions (worldview) and how it should be managed (management style) and this is implemented in a simple dynamic model of the economy-energy-climate system. Each perspective is supported by a proportion of the agents, but this proportion changes in response to observations about the real world. In this way the totality of agents learn from their observations. It is concluded that this approach is a good illustration of how adaptive behavior can be included in global change modelling. Some exploratory experiments are done to address the consequences of surprises.

Keywords: Global change; Integrated assessment modeling; Perspectives; Multi-agent modeling.


Allocation of fossil CO2 emission rights quantifying cultural perspectives

Janssen, M.A., and J. Rotmans

1995 Ecological Economics 13(1): 65-79.


Cultural perspectives play an important role in framing international climate policy. The concept we have introduced is designed to enable quantification of the influence of such cultural perspectives on the allocation of fossil CO2 emission rights. A model is presented which allocates future emission rights to world regions. An emission budget which incorporates an historical component is defined for the specific period which is required if climate change policy targets are to be met. Allocation of the budget to regions is based on a weighted mix of indicators such as population size, GNP and energy consumption. Subtracting historical emissions results in future regional emission rights. Uncertainties in the selection of parameter values for the model and in generating scenarios of future developments are here regarded as being related to cultural perspectives. We have assumed that cultural perspectives can be quantified by reference to distributions of preferred parameter values and preferred future scenarios. Distributions of regional emission rights biased towards preferred allocations as determined by the perspectives can thus be described. In fact, the proposed approach envisages an uncertainty analysis based on the characteristics of cultural perspectives.

Keywords: Climate change; CO2; Cultural perspectives; Allocation of emission rights.


Book Chapters

A future of surprises

Janssen, M.A.

2002 In Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, edited by L. Gunderson and C.S. Holling, pp. 241-260, Island Press.

An evolutionary integrated modelling approach: a case study for climate change

Janssen, M.A.

1999 In Complex Problem Solving: Methodological Support for Societal Policy Making, edited by D.J. DeTombe & E.A. Stuhler, pp. 130-139,  Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munchen u. Mering.


Addressing global change demands an integrative consideration of interactions between humans and the environment on a world wide scale. An assimilative integrated system approach seems to be appropriate for investigation of this complex global problem. In this paper an integrated modeling approach is proposed that is based on an evolutionary view on global change. A case study is worked out where images of the future using a multi-agent model are assessed, and where agents differ in their world view and thus also in their preferred management style. The perspective of agents may change due to new information they derive from the system. A simple model is constructed to illustrate the consequences of this approach on climate change scenarios.


Energy systems in transition

Vries, H.J.M. de, A.H.W. Beusen and M.A. Janssen

1997 In Perspectives on Global Change: The TARGETS Approach, edited by Rotmans, J. en H.J.M. de Vries, pp. 263-290, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.


In this chapter we present simulation experiments and outcomes of the energy submodel TIME. First, the major controversies and uncertainties are discussed. Next, the cultural perspectives are introduced with reference to world energy, after which we clarify the way in which these are linked to assumptions and model routes. Some results of sensitivity and uncertainty analyses are also given. We discuss a few energy dystopias which could emerge if, for a given population-economy scenario, the world view and the management style within the energy system are discordant. Some conclusions are presented about the plausibility of and risks related to the Utopian energy futures. The impacts of the emissions from fossil fuel combustion on water, land, and element cycles are discussed in the next three chapters.


Global change: fresh insights, no simple answers

Vries, H.J.M. de Vries, J. Rotmans, A.H.W. Beusen, M.G.J. den Elzen, H.B.M. Hilderink, A.Y. Hoekstra, M.A. Janssen, L.W. Niessen, B.J. Strengers and M.B.A. van Asselt

1997 In Perspectives on Global Change: The TARGETS Approach, edited by  Rotmans, J. en H.J.M. de Vries, pp. 417-434, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.


The Battle of Perspectives

Janssen, M.A.
1995 GLOBO Working Paper 95-3, RIVM, Bilthoven, the Netherlands.


Current (integrated) modelling efforts aimed at scanning the future do not allow for the learning and adaptive behaviour of agents in a world of uncertainty. In this paper, a framework is presented which might prove to provide a starting point in scanning the feasibility of coping with the dynamics of an ever-evolving interaction between the global system and the relevant agents, whereby the latter are assumed to view the global system from various perspectives. These perspectives may change over time in the event of surprises appearing in the observations. The agents’ favoured management styles, which are assumed to be related to the perspectives, may therefore likewise change over time. Incorporation of the ‘battle of perspectives’ enables us to embark modelling the interaction of decision-making with the complex global system in a world of uncertainty.

The example which is worked out here is the climate change issue, whereby a simple dynamic system for the economy and the climate system is used. This enables us to derive images of the future which take the notion of learning and adaptation into account.

Keywords: climate change, integrated assessment modelling, perspectives, learning behaviour, surprises


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