The Scandal Matrix: The Use of Scandals in the Progress of Society
Homo Oeconomicus, Vol. 16, pp. 97–110, 1999
Posted: 2 Nov 1998 Last revised: 4 Apr 2011
Date Written: March 1, 1998
Social conventions and norms can be modeled as equilibria of coordination games. It is argued that the critical mass necessary for a society to move from one convention, that is from one equilibrium, to another changes with changes in the population structure due to generation shifts. A scandal is defined as a breach of the accepted norm by a prominent person When the critical mass necessary for a change in the accepted convention is sufficiently small, a scandal can trigger such a change since the scandal maker has a certain number of sympathizers, who follow her in breaking the accepted norm. The argument is illustrated with several examples from the history of mankind.
JEL Classification: C72, D74, J19, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation