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Political Science
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Peter Loewen

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Collective action what is it an exampleCollective action is the efforts of a group to reach and implement an agreementCollective action compares individual preferences and finds a course of action that sufficient number of participants agree if preferable to proposed alternatives or remaining in the status quoTwo fundamental barriers of to collective action are coordination problems and pirsoners dilemma Coordination is when members of a group must decide invidiaully what they want what they will contribute to the collective enterprise and how to coordinate their effort with othersCoordination problems increase with the size of a group large groups trying to reach shared goals run into difficulty For example members of the house of rep and senate configure procedures to enable congresss to decide policy for the hudres of issues presented each session To achieve the same objective the house of 435 members and 100 senators proceeddifferently and have conflicting opinions The house delegates to a rules committee for responsibility for scheduling the flow of legislation onto the floor and setting limits on deliberations and amendments This important committee becomes the leader in setting the bodys agenda The entire house cedes this authority to a committeee because coordination is vital if the chamber is to identify and pass the most preferred legislation By contrast the smaller senate has found that it can achieve comparable levels of oordination without having to surrender authority to a specialized committee Rather informal discussions among members and party leaders sufficePrisoners Dilemma When individuals who would ultimatetely benefit from cooperation with eachother also have incentives to break the agreement and exploit the other side only when each party is confident that the other will live up to an agreement can they successfully break out of the dilemma and work to their mutual advantage In politics exchanges occur because each side recognizes they would be better off with a collective outcome rather than trying to act alone to get something benefical both sides must typically give up something of value in return In collective decisions unless participants can trust eachother to abide by their commitments they cant achieve a mutally profitable exchange A common solution is to create institutions that help parties discover opportunities to profit through cooperation and guarantee that agreements are honoredCoordination is rewarded what makes it easier is institutions create rules that we have to follow to create norms and what to follow Institutions are the systems and rules we create to structure interactionsGood institutions are created to problem solve and to promote better outcomesFree rider problem a form of prisoners dilemma that afflicts large groups is freerider problem with each indvidiausl contribution to the success of collective acitivity a member will be tempted to free ride that is to defect from the agreement by withholding contributions to the groups undertaking wile enjoying the beenfits of the collective effort It arises when citizens recognize that their small contribution to the collective enterprise will not affect its success or failure And because contributing is somewhat costly they decide not to make the effort even if they are supportive the realize they can escape fulfilling their obligations Barack Obama 2008 election get out the vote discovered that organizing volunteers into groups more than ten volunteers reduced the groups sucesss in contacting voters they organized into smaller teams where they could more easily see their contributions made a difference Tragedy of the CommonsEveryone is acting in their self interest dont not take something because if they dont everyone else will take it and leave them worse off A public good is something which everyone receives regardless of whether they pay for itBut sometimes it requires a minimum amount of money or effort to be providedtradgedy of the commons is the costless consumption of a public good the commons that result in the ruination the good already exists and will be destroyed if exploitation is not brought under control An example is the collapse of the cod fishing industry of New England entire communities had their economies on fishing cod in near water but so many fisherman exploited this resource without allowing nature to replenish it they wiped out their fishey Participants find themselves racing towards ruin as they deplte natural resources To avoid the tragedy of the common lies in proper institutional design the solution links the individual personal interest to provision of the collective good one solution is regulation setting up rules limiting access to to the common resource like HofRep strickly eation access to the floor with rules prescribing time limits to debate and germaness of motions In many setttings privatizing it converting from a private from public good Whether regulation or privatization the solution involves asligning personal gain with promotion of the collective goodCosts of Collective ActionThe key to successful collective action is designing a system that achieves the benefit of collective effort while minimizing its costs Senate with 100 members efficiently accomplish business with fewer restrictive rules than that for the larger 435 members Two kinds of cost for designing instiitutions for collective action are transaction costs and conformity costsTransaction coststime effort and resources required to make collective decisions These costs rise as the number of participants whose preferences must be taken into account increases in the absence of institutions for negotiation and implementing collective agreeements these costs may overwhelm the ability of participants to identify and commit themselves to collective enterprise Sometimes high transaction costs are intentionally put in place to make some collective activites more difficult npt less fashioned a delicately balanced plan of government framers uninsterested in someone rewriting the constitution the framers made 2 thirds of memberships of both houses of congress and to be ratified by three fourths of the stateConformity costs theextenttowhichcollectivedecisionsrequireindividualstodothingstheywishtoavoidordinarytaskslikepayingpropertytaxesandthanextremelikeservinginwarawayfromhomeRulesthatmakecitizensfundagvovenrmentprogramthattheyopposeinstitutionstrytominimizethesecostsa large number of families
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