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Article in Nature Communications Physics by Oliveira, Karimi, Zens, Schaible, Génois & Strohmaier: Group mixing drives inequality in face-to-face gatherings


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Oliveira, M., Karimi, F., Zens, M. et al. Group mixing drives inequality in face-to-face gatherings. Commun Phys 5, 127 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42005-022-00896-1

Uncovering how inequality emerges from human interaction is imperative for just societies. Here the authors show that the way social groups interact in face-to-face situations can enable the emergence of disparities in the visibility of social groups. These disparities translate into members of specific social groups having fewer social ties than the average (i.e., degree inequality).

The authors characterize group degree inequality in sensor-based data sets and present a mechanism that explains these disparities as the result of group mixing and group-size imbalance. They investigate how group sizes affect this inequality, thereby uncovering the critical size and mixing conditions in which a critical minority group emerges. If a minority group is larger than this critical size, it can be a well-connected, cohesive group; if it is smaller, minority cohesion widens inequality.