In the more mundane commercial jobs, real players have to come to work, which means they can bicker with their coworkers and bosses over working conditions, expectations, or pay. Initially the game provides sectors for food, housing, weapons, moving, and gifts, but more may be added over time. The raw materials are based on the geography of regions, so there is some relationship between the player's location (they can choose a home country) and the materials that can be easily produced. Players could create companies and make products, say food units. These units could have different features and properties, be exported via export licenses and taxation. People need to eat or they die, so they have to buy food, thus facilitating a more detailed natural economy. For example, there have been raw materials crunch, leading to a shortage, for which some governments enact legislation.
The political roles can become complex. One month in real time ticks off four calendar years ERepublik time. Since activity is accelerated, and since players are very international the dynamics can rapidly change. For example, when the game's founder began the game as President of France, he reduced taxes and import restrictions leading to a near collapse of the economy due to foreign takeover. He did not win reelection. Conversely, Pakistan is currently a military theocracy with an Emperor.
These job roles not only give players something to do, they also give them something (perhaps many things) to bicker over, and for the press to cover. While it might seem a long way around to come to this conclusion, ERepublik offers players the ability to become a member of a community, a citizen of a world. But unlike other virtual worlds like World of Warcraft's Azeroth, ERepublik also offers many tools to change one's lot and that of his company, community, or nation. The game offers a kind of practice for citizenship itself, and a forum for discussion of that practice. Social and political activity comprise most of the experience of the game, so getting involved in these activities is required for active play. Voting and participation is fervently encouraged, with participation rates apparently much higher than in real life. The same seems to go for journalism: players culture and construct a free press because it's the best way to make an impact on (simulated) public life.
Might ERepublik offer groups of citizens a place to test out ideas that they might consider in their real communities? It's too early to tell. The company promises an API to allow the community to develop their own add-ins for the game (for example, when citizens called for a stock market, ERepublik released an early version and several versions of stock markets are in progress).