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Spontaneous disorder: conflict-kindling institutions in virtual worlds


This paper analyses the emergence and persistence of disorder due to bellicose (i.e. ‘conflict-kindling’) institutions. It does so relying on a novel empirical approach, examining the predatory and productive interactions of 400,000 users of a virtual world as well as its institutions. The paper finds that while there are many cases of spontaneous order in that virtual world, and while the users are not more conflict-loving as such, bellicose institutions sanctioning suicidal attacks in a supposedly safe region spontaneously emerged and rigidly persist, thus upholding disorder (i.e. a particularly violent kind of ordered anarchy).

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Journal of Institutional Economics
  • ISSN: 1744-1374
  • EISSN: 1744-1382
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