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MANUNKIND: Determinants and Dynamics of Collaborative Exploitation

Project description

Game theory sheds light on the logic of collaborative exploitation

Slavery and other forms of collaborative exploitation pervade human history. Today, exploitative behaviours, such as human trafficking and forced labour, cause harm for millions. Surprisingly, despite the broad availability of data on various forms of collaborative exploitation, comprehensive modelling of its fundamental incentive structures has never been done. The ERC-funded MANUNKIND project addresses this gap, aiming to understand how the macro-level patterns and dynamics observable in the existing data emerge from micro-level traits, decisions and behaviour. The team will develop a versatile game theoretic framework and new paradigms for behavioural experiments. The project will thus shed new light on the psychological mechanisms and traits involved in exploitative interactions and be the first to apply rigorous formal modelling to understand collaborative exploitation.

Objective

Chattel slavery and other forms of collaborative exploitation are with us since ancient times, inflicting unfathomable suffering on countless generations of victims. And even though slavery is outlawed globally today, its modern-day successors continue to cause severe harm for millions.

Previous research has compiled rich datasets on the prevalence of collaborative exploitation across cultures and across time. A startling gap exists in the literature, however, with respect to modeling the fundamental incentive structures of collaborative exploitation and understanding the psychological processes involved. Hence, we do not understand well how the macro-level patterns and dynamics observable in the existing data emerge from micro-level traits, decisions, and behavior.

Addressing this knowledge gap, this research proposal
- analyzes collaborative exploitation as a strategic interaction between exploiters and exploited,
- scrutinizes the psychological mechanisms and traits involved in exploitative interactions, and
- traces how the aggregation of these micro-level components into macro-level patterns and dynamics is shaped by, and interacts with, the ecological, economic, and ideological conditions it is situated in.

In doing so, I develop, test, and disseminate a versatile game theoretic framework and corresponding new paradigms for behavioral experiments to advance the multidisciplinary study of collaborative exploitation. Being the first to apply rigorous formal modeling and transparent preregistered tests of theory-grounded hypotheses against experimental and archive data to understand collaborative exploitation, this proposal advances into uncharted territory. Thus, it breaks new ground for research in several disciplines and at multiple levels of analysis. Moreover, its results can inform policy-making aiming to end modern-day slavery and other contemporary forms of exploitation -- in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 8.

Host institution

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Net EU contribution
€ 1 006 811,50
Address
HOFGARTENSTRASSE 8
80539 Munchen
Germany

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Region
Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Total cost
€ 1 006 811,50

Beneficiaries (2)