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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article considers how game theory can be simultaneously deployed as a tool for framing questions and for formal analytical investigation of the relationship between micro-level decisions and macro-level outcomes. It first provides an overview of some basic concepts of game theory before turning to evolutionary game theory and its most salient features, including the concept of equilibrium. It then examines behavioral game theory and presents examples of how game theory has been used in the field of sociology for the purposes of thinking and for the derivation of system-level outcomes. It also reviews studies that have used game theory in a more formal way in order to derive aggregate distributions from a social system comprising interacting agents and to explain aggregate outcomes. Finally, it describes various applications of evolutionary games and suggests that evolutionary game theory may provide an especially fecund tool for sociologists.

Keywords: game theory, micro-level decisions, macro-level outcomes, evolutionary game theory, equilibrium, behavioral game theory, sociology, aggregate distributions, aggregate outcomes, evolutionary games

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