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Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their condition 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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Kenneth Joseph Arrow was an American economist, mathematician, writer, and political theorist. He was the joint winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with John Hicks in 1972.
Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.
Gérard Debreu was a French-born economist and mathematician. Best known as a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he began work in 1962, he won the 1983 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
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 psychology, the false consensus effect, also known as consensus bias, is a pervasive cognitive bias in social inferences, which people tend to “see their own behavioral choices and judgements as relatively common and appropriate to existing circumstances”. In other words, it is perceivers’ tendency to assume that their personal qualities, characteristics, beliefs, and actions are relatively widespread through the general population in any given situations. The false consensus effect has been widely observed and supported by empirical evidence. Previous research has suggested that cognitive and perceptional factors may contribute to the consensus bias, while recent studies have focused on its neural mechanisms. One recent study has shown that the consensus bias may improve decisions about other people's preferences.
In the social sciences there is a standing debate over the primacy of structure or agency in shaping human behaviour. Structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements which influence or limit the choices and opportunities available. Agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. The structure versus agency debate may be understood as an issue of socialization against autonomy in determining whether an individual acts as a free agent or in a manner dictated by social structure.
Identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person or group. One can regard the categorizing of identity as positive or as destructive.
Labeling theory posits that self-identity and the behavior of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. It is associated with the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping. Labeling theory holds that deviance is not inherent in an act, but instead focuses on the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norms. The theory was prominent during the 1960s and 1970s, and some modified versions of the theory have developed and are still currently popular. Stigma is defined as a powerfully negative label that changes a person's self-concept and social identity.
Iris Marion Young was an American political theorist and socialist feminist focused on the nature of justice and social difference. She served as Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and was affiliated with the Center for Gender Studies and the Human Rights program there. Her research covered contemporary political theory, feminist social theory, and normative analysis of public policy. She believed in the importance of political activism and encouraged her students to involve themselves in their communities.
The Theory of Communicative Action is a two-volume 1981 book by the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, in which the author continues his project of finding a way to ground "the social sciences in a theory of language", which had been set out in On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1967). The two volumes are Reason and the Rationalization of Society, in which Habermas establishes a concept of communicative rationality, and Lifeworld and System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason, in which Habermas creates the two level concept of society and lays out the critical theory for modernity.
In social dynamics, critical mass is a sufficient number of adopters of a new idea, technology or innovation in a social system so that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth. The point at which critical mass is achieved sometimes referred to as a threshold within the threshold model of statistical modeling.
Counterproductive norms are group norms that prevent a group, organization, or other collective entities from performing or accomplishing its originally stated function by working oppositely to how they were initially intended. Group norms are typically enforced to facilitate group survival, to make group member behaviour predictable, to help avoid embarrassing interpersonal interactions, or to clarify distinctive aspects of the group’s identity. Counterproductive norms exist despite the fact that they cause opposite outcomes of the intended prosocial functions.
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.
Macroeconomic theory has its origins in the study of business cycles and monetary theory. In general, early theorists believed monetary factors could not affect real factors such as real output. John Maynard Keynes attacked some of these "classical" theories and produced a general theory that described the whole economy in terms of aggregates rather than individual, microeconomic parts. Attempting to explain unemployment and recessions, he noticed the tendency for people and businesses to hoard cash and avoid investment during a recession. He argued that this invalidated the assumptions of classical economists who thought that markets always clear, leaving no surplus of goods and no willing labor left idle.
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.
Conflict economics is a branch of economics that puts the allocation of resources by means of violent fighting, i.e. conflict, into economic models.
Intergroup dialogue is a "face-to-face facilitated conversation between members of two or more social identity groups that strives to create new levels of understanding, relating, and action". This process promotes conversation around controversial issues, specifically, in order to generate new "collective visions" that uphold the dignity of all people. Intergroup dialogue is based in the philosophies of the democratic and popular education movements. It is commonly used on college campuses, but may assume different namesakes in other settings.
Public rhetoric refers to discourse both within a group of people and between groups, often centering on the process by which individual or group discourse seeks membership in the larger public discourse. Public rhetoric can also involve rhetoric being used within the general populace to foster social change and encourage agency on behalf of the participants of public rhetoric. The collective discourse between rhetoricians and the general populace is one representation of public rhetoric. A new discussion within the field of public rhetoric is digital space because the growing digital realm complicates the idea of private and public, as well as previously concrete definitions of discourse. Furthermore, scholars of public rhetoric often employ the language of tourism to examine how identity is negotiated between individuals and groups and how this negotiation impacts individuals and groups on a variety of levels, ranging from the local to the global.