Emergent inequality and self-organized social classes in a network of power and frustration

<div><p>We propose a simple agent-based model on a network to conceptualize the allocation of limited wealth among more abundant expectations at the interplay of power, frustration, and initiative. Concepts imported from the statistical physics of frustrated systems in and out of equilibrium allow us to compare subjective measures of frustration and satisfaction to collective measures of fairness in wealth distribution, such as the Lorenz curve and the Gini index. We find that a completely libertarian, law-of-the-jungle setting, where every agent can acquire wealth from or lose wealth to anybody else invariably leads to a complete polarization of the distribution of wealth vs. opportunity. This picture is however dramatically ameliorated when hard constraints are imposed over agents in the form of a limiting network of transactions. There, an out of equilibrium dynamics of the networks, based on a competition between power and frustration in the decision-making of agents, leads to network coevolution. The ratio of power and frustration controls different dynamical regimes separated by kinetic transitions and characterized by drastically different values of equality. It also leads, for proper values of social initiative, to the emergence of three self-organized social classes, lower, middle, and upper class. Their dynamics, which appears mostly controlled by the middle class, drives a cyclical regime of dramatic social changes.</p></div>