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Case-based methods and agent-based modelling : bridging the divide to leverage their combined strengths.

Castellani, Brian and Barbrook-Johnson, Peter and Schimpf, Corey (2019) 'Case-based methods and agent-based modelling : bridging the divide to leverage their combined strengths.', International journal of social research methodology., 22 (4). pp. 403-416.


Two leading camps for studying social complexity are case-based methods (CBM) and agent-based modelling (ABM). Despite the potential epistemological links between ‘cases’ and ‘agents,’ neither camp has leveraged their combined strengths. A bridge can be built, however, by drawing on Abbott’s insight that ‘agents are cases doing things’, Byrne’s suggestion that ‘cases are complex systems with agency’, and by viewing CBM and ABM within the broader trend towards computational modelling of cases. To demonstrate the utility of this bridge, we describe how CBM can utilise ABM to identify case-based trends; explore the interactions and collective behaviour of cases; and study different scenarios. We also describe how ABM can utilise CBM to identify agent types; construct agent behaviour rules; and link these to outcomes to calibrate and validate model results. To further demonstrate the bridge, we review a public health study that made initial steps in combining CBM and ABM.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International journal of social research methodology on 16 January 2019 available online:
Date accepted:21 December 2018
Date deposited:19 February 2019
Date of first online publication:16 January 2019
Date first made open access:16 July 2020

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