Model systems for the present

June 22, 2020

A common perception is that societies of the past are not very useful for understanding the present because they were so much smaller and simpler. In a paper published this week in Science Advances, Social Reactors Project researchers Scott Ortman and Jose Lobo argue that this is precisely why they...


Ancient broadcasting

June 22, 2020

Most people today get their news through the internet. How did people get it in the past? Gossip worked well enough for small, face-to-face communities, but what about ancient cities? In a recent paper, Social Reactors Project researchers Jack Hanson and Scott Ortman argue that mass spectator events were an...

Cities, Scaling and COVID-19

March 28, 2020

Many news stories about the COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing this spring have pointed out that the infection rates tend to be higher in larger US cities than in more rural areas. What has not been as fully appreciated is the fact that the influence of city size for the...

City gates and beard taxes: new SRP publications

March 23, 2020

Social reactors project researchers Jack Hanson (Reading University, UK) and Rudy Cesaretti (Arizona State University, USA) have recently completed publications that extend settlement scaling theory in new (and different) directions. Hanson's paper focuses on the widths of city gates in Roman cities of the Imperial period, finding evidence for increasing...

Broadway scene

Report: The future of urban science: integrating the social and natural sciences

Jan. 13, 2020

In a new report submitted to the National Science Foundation, a large group of collaborators from many fields, led by Jose Lobo, spell out a vision for the future of urban science. From the preface: "Urban science seeks to understand the fundamental processes that drive, shape and sustain cities and...

Expanding Archaeology's Relevance

Oct. 25, 2019

Increasing numbers of archaeologists are arguing that archaeological evidence should be included in discussions of contemporary issues, but what would it take for archaeological evidence to play a larger role? In a recent paper , Social Reactors Project researcher Scott Ortman argues the main stumbling block is the intellectual history...

How the past was NOT different

Oct. 25, 2019

It is not difficult to come up with ways in which settlements of the past were different from contemporary cities. What is harder to do, but much more interesting, is identify ways in which they were the same. In a recent post on the Urban Studies Journal blog, Social Reactors...

Debating settlement scaling

June 13, 2019

Front: Celine Rozenblat, Vicky Chao, Michael Price, Luis Bettencourt; Back: Scott Ortman, Mike Smith, Debbie Strumsky, Elsa Arcaute, Devin White, Jose Lobo, Chris Kempes, Diego Rybski, Jeff West, Marcus Hamilton A recent meeting at the Santa Fe Institute brought together researchers with a variety of perspectives on urban and settlement...

Social Reactors Project Preprints now available

June 13, 2019

Preprints of publications in progress by Social Reactors Project collaborators are now available through the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation's Publications page . The site contains links to preprints of studies of contemporary as well as ethnographic and archaeological data that are currently under review for publication, including studies of...

Street life: infrastructure in Roman cities

June 13, 2019

In the latest issue of the journal Antiquity , Social Reactors Project collaborators Jack Hanson, Scott Ortman, Luis Bettencourt and Liam Mazur present evidence that the street networks of Imperial Roman cities exhibit an even stronger economy of scale than is characteristic of contemporary urban street networks. The authors argue...