Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective.It is a term that has formulations and theories in many areas of the social sciences including psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and economics.
Researchers Martijn van Zomeren, Tom Postmes, and Russell Spears conducted a meta-analysis of over 180 studies of collective action, in an attempt to integrate three dominant socio-psychological perspectives explaining antecedent conditions to this phenomenon – injustice, efficacy, and identity.In their resultant 2008 review article, an integrative Social Identity Model of Collective Action (SIMCA) was proposed which accounts for interrelationships among the three predictors as well as their predictive capacities for collective action. An important assumption of this approach is that people tend to respond to subjective states of disadvantage, which may or may not flow from objective physical and social reality.
Examining collective action through perceived injustice was initially guided by relative deprivation theory (RDT). RDT focuses on a subjective state of unjust disadvantage, proposing that engaging in fraternal (group-based) social comparisons with others may result in feelings of relative deprivation that foster collective action. Group-based emotions resulting from perceived injustice, such as anger, are thought to motivate collective action in an attempt to rectify the state of unfair deprivation.The extent to which individuals respond to this deprivation involves several different factors and varies from extremely high to extremely low across different settings. Meta-analysis results confirm that effects of injustice causally predict collective action, highlighting the theoretical importance of this variable.
Moving beyond RDT, scholars suggested that in addition to a sense of injustice, people must also have the objective, structural resources necessary to mobilize change through social protest. An important psychological development saw this research instead directed towards subjective expectations and beliefs that unified effort (collective action) is a viable option for achieving group-based goals – this is referred to as perceived collective efficacy. Empirically, collective efficacy is shown to causally affect collective action among a number of populations across varied contexts.
Social identity theory (SIT) suggests that people strive to achieve and maintain positive social identities associated with their group memberships.Where a group membership is disadvantaged (for example, low status), SIT implicates three variables in the evocation of collective action to improve conditions for the group – permeability of group boundaries, legitimacy of the intergroup structures, and the stability of these relationships. For example, when disadvantaged groups perceive intergroup status relationships as illegitimate and unstable, collective action is predicted to occur, in an attempt to change status structures for the betterment of the disadvantaged group.
Meta-analysis results also confirm that social identity causally predicts collective action across a number of diverse contexts. Additionally, the integrated SIMCA affords another important role to social identity – that of a psychological bridge forming the collective base from which both collective efficacy and group injustice may be conceived.[ citation needed ]
While there is sound empirical support for the causal importance of SIMCA’s key theoretical variables on collective action,more recent literature has addressed the issue of reverse causation, finding support for a related, yet distinct, encapsulation model of social identity in collective action (EMSICA). This model suggests that perceived group efficacy and perceived injustice provide the basis from which social identity emerges, highlighting an alternative causal pathway to collective action. Recent research has sought to integrate SIMCA with intergroup contact theory (see Cakal, Hewstone, Schwär, & Heath ) and others have extended SIMCA through bridging morality research with the collective action literature (see van Zomeren, Postmes, & Spears for a review).
The economic theory of collective action is concerned with the provision of public goods (and other collective consumption) through the collaboration of two or more individuals, and the impact of externalities on group behavior. It is more commonly referred to as Public Choice. Mancur Olson's 1965 book The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, is an important early analysis of the problems of public good cost.
Besides economics, the theory has found many applications in political science, sociology, communication, anthropology and environmentalism.
The term collective action problem describes the situation in which multiple individuals would all benefit from a certain action, but has an associated cost making it implausible that any individual can or will undertake and solve it alone. The ideal solution is then to undertake this as a collective action, the cost of which is shared. Situations like this include the prisoner's dilemma, a collective action problem in which no communication is allowed, the free rider problem, and the tragedy of the commons, also known as the problem with open access.An allegorical metaphor often used to describe the problem is "belling the cat".
Solutions to collective action problems include mutually binding agreements, government regulation, privatisation, and assurance contracts, also known as crowdacting.
Mancur Olson made the claim that individual rational choice leads to situations where individuals with more resources will carry a higher burden in the provision of the public good than poorer ones.Poorer individuals will usually have little choice but to opt for the free rider strategy, i.e., they will attempt to benefit from the public good without contributing to its provision. This may also encourage the under-production (inefficient production) of the public good.
While public goods are often provided by governments, this is not always the case. Various institutional designs have been studied with the aim of reducing the collaborative failure. The best design for a given situation depends on the production costs, the utility function, and the collaborative effects, amongst other things. Here are only some examples:
A joint-product model analyzes the collaborative effect of joining a private good to a public good. For example, a tax deduction (private good) can be tied to a donation to a charity (public good).
It can be shown that the provision of the public good increases when tied to the private good, as long as the private good is provided by a monopoly (otherwise the private good would be provided by competitors without the link to the public good).
Some institutional design, e.g., intellectual property rights, can introduce an exclusion mechanism and turn a pure public good into an impure public good artificially.
If the costs of the exclusion mechanism are not higher than the gain from the collaboration, clubs can emerge. James M. Buchanan showed in his seminal paper that clubs can be an efficient alternative to government interventions.
A nation can be seen as a club whose members are its citizens. Government would then be the manager of this club.
In some cases, theory shows that collaboration emerges spontaneously in smaller groups rather than in large ones (see e.g. Dunbar's number). This explains why labor unions or charities often have a federated structure.
Since the late 20th century, analytic philosophers have been exploring the nature of collective action in the sense of acting together, as when people paint a house together, go for a walk together, or together execute a pass play. These particular examples have been central for three of the philosophers who have made well known contributions to this literature: Michael Bratman, Margaret Gilbert, and John Searle, respectively.
In ( Gilbert 1989 ) and subsequent articles and book chapters including Gilbert (2006, chapter 7), whom argues for an account of collective action according to which this rests on a special kind of interpersonal commitment, what Gilbert calls a "joint commitment". A joint commitment in Gilbert's sense is not a matter of a set of personal commitments independently created by each of the participants, as when each makes a personal decision to do something. Rather, it is a single commitment to whose creation each participant makes a contribution. Thus suppose that one person says "Shall we go for a walk?" and the other says "Yes, let's". Gilbert proposes that as a result of this exchange the parties are jointly committed to go for a walk, and thereby obligated to one another to act as if they were parts of a single person taking a walk. Joint commitments can be created less explicitly and through processes that are more extended in time. One merit of a joint commitment account of collective action, in Gilbert's view, is that it explains the fact that those who are out on a walk together, for instance, understand that each of them is in a position to demand corrective action of the other if he or she acts in ways that affect negatively the completion of their walk. In ( Gilbert 2006a ) she discusses the pertinence of joint commitment to collective actions in the sense of the theory of rational choice.
In Searle (1990) Searle argues that what lies at the heart of a collective action is the presence in the mind of each participant of a "we-intention". Searle does not give an account of we-intentions or, as he also puts it, "collective intentionality", but insists that they are distinct from the "I-intentions" that animate the actions of persons acting alone.
In Bratman (1993) Bratman proposed that, roughly, two people "share an intention" to paint a house together when each intends that the house is painted by virtue of the activity of each, and also intends that it is so painted by virtue of the intention of each that it is so painted. That these conditions obtain must also be "common knowledge" between the participants.
Discussion in this area continues to expand, and has influenced discussions in other disciplines including anthropology, developmental psychology, and economics. One general question is whether it is necessary to think in terms that go beyond the personal intentions of individual human beings properly to characterize what it is to act together. Bratman's account does not go beyond such personal intentions. Gilbert's account, with its invocation of joint commitment, does go beyond them. Searle's account does also, with its invocation of collective intentionality. The question of whether and how one must account for the existence of mutual obligations when there is a collective intention is another of the issues in this area of inquiry.
In addition to the psychological mechanisms of collective action as explained by the social identity model, researchers have developed sociological models of why collective action exists and have studied under what conditions collective action emerges.Along this social dimension, a special case of the general collective action problem is one of collective agreement: how does a group of agents (humans, animals, robots, etc.) reach consensus about a decision or belief in the absence of central organization? Common examples can be found from domains as diverse as biology (flocking, shoaling and schooling, and general collective animal behavior), economics (stock market bubbles), and sociology (social conventions and norms) among others.
Consensus is distinct from the collective action problem in that there often is not an explicit goal, benefit, or cost of action but rather it concerns itself with a social equilibrium of the individuals involved (and their beliefs). And it can be considered spontaneous when it emerges without the presence of a centralized institution among self-interested individuals.
Spontaneous consensus can be considered along 4 dimensions involving the social structure of the individuals participating (local versus global) in the consensus as well as the processes (competitive vs cooperative) involved in reaching consensus:
The underlying processes of spontaneous consensus can be viewed either as cooperation among individuals trying to coordinate themselves through their interactions or as competition between the alternatives or choices to be decided upon.Depending on the dynamics of the individuals involved as well as the context of the alternatives considered for consensus, the process can be wholly cooperative, wholly competitive, or a mix of the two.
The distinction between local and global consensus can be viewed in terms of the social structure underlying the network of individuals participating in the consensus making process. Local consensus occurs when there is agreement between groups of neighboring nodes while global consensus refers to the state in which most of the population has reached an agreement.How and why consensus is reached is dependent on both the structure of the social network of individuals as well as the presence (or lack) of centralized institutions.
There are many mechanisms (social and psychological) that have been identified to underlie the consensus making process.They have been used to both explain the emergence of spontaneous consensus and understand how to facilitate an equilibrium between individuals and can be grouped according to their role in the process.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of both the mechanisms as well as the applications of spontaneous consensus, a variety of techniques have been developed to study the emergence and evolution of spontaneous cooperation. Two of the most widely used are game theory and social network analysis.
Traditionally game theory has been used to study zero-sum games but has been extended to many different types of games. Relevant to the study of spontaneous consensus are cooperative and non-cooperative games. Since a consensus must be reached without the presence of any external authoritative institution for it to be considered spontaneous, non-cooperative games and nash equilibrium have been the dominant paradigm for which to study its emergence.
In the context of non-cooperative games, a consensus is a formal nash equilibrium that all players tend towards through self-enforcing alliances or agreements.
An alternative approach to studying the emergence of spontaneous consensus—that avoids many of the unnatural or overly constrained assumptions of game theoretic models—is the use of network based methods and social network analysis (SNA). These SNA models are theoretically grounded in the communication mechanismof facilitating consensus and describe its emergence through the information propagation processes of the network (behavioral contagion). Through the spread of influence (and ideas) between agents participating in the consensus, local and global consensus can emerge if the agents in the network achieve a shared equilibrium state. Leveraging this model of consensus, researchers have shown that local peer influence can be used to reach a global consensus and cooperation across the entire network. While this model of consensus and cooperation has been shown to be successful in certain contexts, research suggest that communication and social influence cannot be fully captured by simple contagion models and as such a pure contagion based model of consensus may have limits.
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Public choice, or public choice theory, is "the use of economic tools to deal with traditional problems of political science". Its content includes the study of political behavior. In political science, it is the subset of positive political theory that studies self-interested agents and their interactions, which can be represented in a number of ways – using standard constrained utility maximization, game theory, or decision theory.
In the social sciences, the free-rider problem is a type of market failure that occurs when those who benefit from resources, public goods, or services of a communal nature do not pay for them or under-pay. Free riders are a problem because while not paying for the good, they may continue to access or use it. Thus, the good may be under-produced, overused or degraded.
Prejudice is an affective feeling towards a person based on their perceived group membership. The word is often used to refer to a preconceived, usually unfavourable, evaluation of another person based on that person's political affiliation, sex, gender, beliefs, values, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, beauty, occupation, education, criminality, sport team affiliation or other personal characteristics.
Group dynamics is a system of behaviors and psychological processes occurring within a social group, or between social groups. The study of group dynamics can be useful in understanding decision-making behaviour, tracking the spread of diseases in society, creating effective therapy techniques, and following the emergence and popularity of new ideas and technologies. Group dynamics are at the core of understanding racism, sexism, and other forms of social prejudice and discrimination. These applications of the field are studied in psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, epidemiology, education, social work, business, and communication studies.
In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity. Other theorists disagree however, and are wary of definitions which stress the importance of interdependence or objective similarity. Instead, researchers within the social identity tradition generally define it as "a group is defined in terms of those who identify themselves as members of the group". Regardless, social groups come in a myriad of sizes and varieties. For example, a society can be viewed as a large social group.
A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. This may be to carry out, resist or undo a social change. It is a type of group action and may involve individuals, organizations or both. Definitions of the term are slightly varied. Social movements have been described as "organizational structures and strategies that may empower oppressed populations to mount effective challenges and resist the more powerful and advantaged elites". They represent a method of social change from the bottom within nations.
Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority.
In-group favoritism, sometimes known as in-group–out-group bias, in-group bias, intergroup bias, or in-group preference, is a pattern of favoring members of one's in-group over out-group members. This can be expressed in evaluation of others, in allocation of resources, and in many other ways.
Club goods are a type of good in economics, sometimes classified as a subtype of public goods that are excludable but non-rivalrous, at least until reaching a point where congestion occurs. Often these goods exhibit high excludability, but at the same time low rivalry in consumption. Because of that low rivalry in consumption characteristic, club goods have essentially zero marginal costs and are generally provided by what is commonly known as natural monopolies. Furthermore Club goods have artificial scarcity. Club theory is the area of economics that studies these goods. One of the most famous provisions was published by Buchanan in 1965 "An Economic Theory of Clubs", in which he addresses the question of how the size of the group influences the voluntary provision of a public good and more fundamentally provides a theoretical structure of communal or collective ownership-consumption arrangements.
Theories of technology attempt to explain the factors that shape technological innovation as well as the impact of technology on society and culture. Most contemporary theories of technology reject two previous views: the linear model of technological innovation and technological determinism. To challenge the linear model, today's theories of technology point to the historical evidence that technological innovation often gives rise to new scientific fields, and emphasizes the important role that social networks and cultural values play in shaping technological artifacts. To challenge technological determinism, today's theories of technology emphasize the scope of technical choice, which is greater than most laypeople realize; as science and technology scholars like to say, "It could have been different." For this reason, theorists who take these positions typically argue for greater public involvement in technological decision-making.It also refers to a company name which usually provides the tech related content to the user
In social dynamics, critical mass is a sufficient number of adopters of an innovation in a social system so that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth. The term is borrowed from nuclear physics and in that field it refers to the amount of a substance needed to sustain a chain reaction.
A collective action problem is a situation in which all individuals would be better off cooperating but fail to do so because of conflicting interests between individuals that discourage joint action. The collective action problem has been addressed in political philosophy for centuries, but was most clearly established in 1965 in Mancur Olson's The Logic of Collective Action. The collective action problem can be observed today in many areas of study, and is particularly relevant to economic concepts such as game theory and the free-rider problem that results from the provision of public goods. Additionally, the collective problem can be applied to numerous public policy concerns that countries across the world currently face.
Social identity is the portion of an individual's self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group. As originally formulated by social psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and the 1980s, social identity theory introduced the concept of a social identity as a way in which to explain intergroup behaviour.
Stephen David Reicher is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of St Andrews. He was formerly head of the School of Psychology.
The social identity model of deindividuation effects is a theory developed in social psychology and communication studies. SIDE explains the effects of anonymity and identifiability on group behavior. It has become one of several theories of technology that describe social effects of computer-mediated communication.
Group decision-making is a situation faced when individuals collectively make a choice from the alternatives before them. The decision is then no longer attributable to any single individual who is a member of the group. This is because all the individuals and social group processes such as social influence contribute to the outcome. The decisions made by groups are often different from those made by individuals. In workplace settings, collaborative decision-making is one of the most successful models to generate buy-in from other stakeholders, build consensus, and encourage creativity. According to the idea of synergy, decisions made collectively also tend to be more effective than decisions made by a single individual. In this vein, certain collaborative arrangements have the potential to generate better net performance outcomes than individuals acting on their own. Under normal everyday conditions, collaborative or group decision-making would often be preferred and would generate more benefits than individual decision-making when there is the time for proper deliberation, discussion, and dialogue. This can be achieved through the use of committee, teams, groups, partnerships, or other collaborative social processes.
Self-categorization theory is a theory in social psychology that describes the circumstances under which a person will perceive collections of people as a group, as well as the consequences of perceiving people in group terms. Although the theory is often introduced as an explanation of psychological group formation, it is more accurately thought of as general analysis of the functioning of categorization processes in social perception and interaction that speaks to issues of individual identity as much as group phenomena. It was developed by John Turner and colleagues, and along with social identity theory it is a constituent part of the social identity approach. It was in part developed to address questions that arose in response to social identity theory about the mechanistic underpinnings of social identification.
The term social identity approach refers to research and theory pertaining to two intertwined, but distinct, social psychological theories. These being: social identity theory and self-categorization theory. The social identity approach has been applied to a wide variety of fields and continues to be very influential. There is a high citation rate for key social identity papers and that rate continues to increase.
In the philosophy of mind, collective intentionality characterizes the intentionality that occurs when two or more individuals undertake a task together. Examples include two individuals carrying a heavy table up a flight of stairs or dancing a tango.
Intergroup relations refers to interactions between individuals in different social groups, and to interactions taking place between the groups themselves collectively. It has long been a subject of research in social psychology, political psychology, and organizational behavior.