Positive political theory (PPT) or explanatory political theory is the study of politics using formal methods such as social choice theory, game theory, and statistical analysis. In particular, social choice theoretic methods are often used to describe and (axiomatically) analyze the performance of rules or institutions. The outcomes of the rules or institutions described are then analyzed by game theory, where the individuals/parties/nations involved in a given interaction are modeled as rational agents playing a game, guided by self-interest. Based on this assumption, the outcome of the interactions can be predicted as an equilibrium of the game.
The founder of the field was William H. Riker. In his book The Theory of Political Coalitions (1962), he applied the principles of game theory to the study of politics.
Positive political theory has been used to study democratic institutions such as political bargaining. PPT allows researchers to determine how outcomes of political bargaining differ based on whether political actors are equals or if power is unevenly distributed. PPT also permits the identification of institutional and contextual mechanisms that give some group members additional influence in determining collective outcomes. By focusing on the mechanisms, PPT also allows researchers to determine if outcomes are a result of asymmetric bargaining or deliberative persuasion.
Game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction among rational decision-makers. It has applications in all fields of social science, as well as in logic, systems science and computer science. Originally, it addressed zero-sum games, in which each participant's gains or losses are exactly balanced by those of the other participants. Today, game theory applies to a wide range of behavioral relations, and is now an umbrella term for the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.
Rational choice theory, also known as choice theory or rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior. The basic premise of rational choice theory is that aggregate social behavior results from the behavior of individual actors, each of whom is making their individual decisions. The theory also focuses on the determinants of the individual choices. Rational choice theory then assumes that an individual has preferences among the available choice alternatives that allow them to state which option they prefer. These preferences are assumed to be complete and transitive. The rational agent is assumed to take account of available information, probabilities of events, and potential costs and benefits in determining preferences, and to act consistently in choosing the self-determined best choice of action. In simpler terms, this theory dictates that every person, even when carrying out the most mundane of tasks, perform their own personal cost and benefit analysis in order to determine whether the action is worth pursuing for the best possible outcome. And following this, a person will choose the optimum venture in every case. This could culminate in a student deciding on whether to attend a lecture or stay in bed, a shopper deciding to provide their own bag to avoid the five pence charge or even a voter deciding which candidate or party based on who will fulfill their needs the best on issues that have an impact on themselves especially.
William Harrison Riker was an American political scientist who is prominent for applying game theory and mathematics to political science.
In economics and related disciplines, a transaction cost is a cost in making any economic trade when participating in a market.
Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Further, institutions can refer to mechanisms which govern the behavior of a set of individuals within a given community; moreover, institutions are identified with a social purpose, transcending individuals and intentions by mediating the rules that govern living behavior. According to Geoffrey M. Hodgson, it is misleading to say that an institution is a form of behavior. Instead, Hodgson states that institutions are "integrated systems of rules that structure social interactions".
New institutionalism or neo-institutionalism is an approach to the study of institutions that focuses on the constraining and enabling effects of formal and informal rules on the behavior of individuals and groups.
Policy analysis is a technique used in public administration to enable civil servants, activists, and others to examine and evaluate the available options to implement the goals of laws and elected officials. The process is also used in the administration of large organizations with complex policies. It has been defined as the process of "determining which of various policies will achieve a given set of goals in light of the relations between the policies and the goals."
Social exchange theory is a sociological and psychological theory that studies the social behavior in the interaction of two parties that implement a cost-benefit analysis to determine risks and benefits. Also, the theory involves economic relationships, it occurs when each party have goods that the other parties value. Social exchange theory suggests that these calculations occur in romantic relationships, friendships, professional relationships and ephemeral relationships as simple as exchanging words with a customer at the cash register. Social exchange theory says that if the costs of the relationship are higher than the rewards, such as a lot of effort or money put into a relationship and not reciprocated, this could lead to problems.
Government failure, in the context of public economics, is an economic inefficiency caused by a government intervention, if the inefficiency would not exist in a true free market. It can be viewed in contrast to a market failure, which is an economic inefficiency that results from the free market itself, and can potentially be corrected through government regulation. The idea of government failure is associated with the policy argument that, even if particular markets may not meet the standard conditions of perfect competition required to ensure social optimality, government intervention may make matters worse rather than better.
A sociological theory is a supposition that intends to consider, analyze, and/or explain objects of social reality from a sociological perspective, drawing connections between individual concepts in order to organize and substantiate sociological knowledge. Hence, such knowledge is composed of complex theoretical frameworks and methodology.
Historical institutionalism (HI) is a new institutionalist social science approach that emphasizes how timing, sequences and path dependence affect institutions, and shape social, political, economic behavior and change. Unlike functionalist theories and some rational choice approaches, historical institutionalism tends to emphasize that many outcomes are possible, small events and flukes can have large consequences, actions are hard to reverse once they take place, and that outcomes may be inefficient. So-called "critical junctures" may set in motion events that are hard to reverse, because of issues related to path dependency. Historical institutionalists tend to focus on history to understand why specific events happen.
Generalized game theory is an extension of game theory incorporating social theory concepts such as norm, value, belief, role, social relationship, and institution. The theory was developed by Tom R. Burns, Anna Gomolinska, and Ewa Roszkowska but has not had great influence beyond these immediate associates. The theory seeks to address certain perceived limitations of game theory by formulating a theory of rules and rule complexes and to develop a more robust approach to socio-psychological and sociological phenomena.
The Rochester school was an influential movement in the Political Science Department at the University of Rochester. Among its key figures were William H. Riker and Kenneth Shepsle, who popularised the study of public choice following a large donation from Xerox, a company based in the same city as the university. It preceded and was essential to the behavioral revolution in political science, and is now considered broadly in the mainstream of political methodology.
Rational Choice Institutionalism (RCI) is a theoretical approach to the study of institutions arguing that actors use institutions to maximize their utility. However, actors face rule-based constraints provided by the institutional environment which influence their behaviour. Rational Choice Institutionalism arose initially from the study of congressional behaviour in the U.S. in the late 1970s. It employs analytical tools borrowed from neo-classical economics to explain how institutions are created, the behaviour of political actors within it, and the outcome of strategic interaction.
James D. Morrow is the A.F.K. Organski Collegiate Professor of World Politics at the University of Michigan and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, best known for his pioneering work in noncooperative game theory and selectorate theory.
Experimental political science is the use of experiments, which may be natural or controlled, to implement the scientific method in political science.
Interdependence theory is a social exchange theory that states that interpersonal relationships are defined through interpersonal interdependence, which is "the process by which interacting people influence one another's experiences"(Van Lange & Balliet, 2014, p. 65). The most basic principle of the theory is encapsulated in the equation I = ƒ[A, B, S], which says that all interpersonal interactions (I) are a function (ƒ) of the given situation (S), plus the actions and characteristics of the individuals in the interaction. The theory's four basic assumptions are 1) The Principle of Structure, 2) The Principle of Transformation, 3) The Principle of Interaction, and 4) The Principle of Adaption.
The altruism theory of voting is a model of voter behavior which states that if citizens in a democracy have “social” preferences for the welfare of others, the extremely low probability of a single vote determining an election will be outweighed by the large cumulative benefits society will receive from the voter’s preferred policy being enacted, such that it is rational for an “altruistic” citizen, who receives utility from helping others, to vote. Altruistic voting has been compared to purchasing a lottery ticket, in which the probability of winning is extremely low but the payoff is large enough that the expected benefit outweighs the cost.
Behavioral game theory analyzes interactive strategic decisions and behavior using the methods of game theory, experimental economics, and experimental psychology. Experiments include testing deviations from typical simplifications of economic theory such as the independence axiom and neglect of altruism, fairness, and framing effects. As a research program, the subject is a development of the last three decades.
The anthropology of institutions is a sub-field in social anthropology dedicated to the study of institutions in different cultural contexts.
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