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Reclaiming individualismPerspectives on public policy$
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Paul Spicker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447309086

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.001.0001

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date: 23 August 2017

Individuals and collective action

Individuals and collective action

Chapter:
(p.138) (p.139) Part Five Individuals and collective action
Source:
Reclaiming individualism
Author(s):

Paul Spicker

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.003.0006

There are reasons to be sceptical about whether it is possible to move from an individualist position to considering the interests of groups. The ‘impossibility theorem’ seems to imply that people might always have inconsistent preferences, and that nothing can be done by groups that is not in some way imposed. Collective action is assumed by some theorists to be unstable. There are, however, many forms of collective action, there are good, strong reasons why even self-interested individuals should cooperate, and some collaborative mechanisms have proved remarkably resilient. The main problems which public services pose for individualists are not best considered by generic criticism of collective action, but by how the position of individuals can be respected and defended within collective structures.

Keywords:   Choice, Collective action, Tragedy of the commons, Solidarity, Social protection, Public services, Government failure

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