During the civil war that wracked El Salvador from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, the Salvadoran military tried to stamp out dissidence and insurgency through an aggressive campaign of crop-burning, kidnapping, rape, killing, torture, and gruesome bodily mutilations. Even as human rights violations drew world attention, repression and war displaced more than a quarter of El Salvador’s population, both inside the country and beyond its borders. Beyond Displacement examines how the peasant campesinos of war-torn northern El Salvador responded to violence by taking to the hills. Molly Todd demonstrates that their flight was not hasty and chaotic, but was a deliberate strategy that grew out of a longer history of collective organization, mobilization, and self-defense.
Ethnically homogenous communities often do a better job than diverse communities of producing public goods such as satisfactory schools and health care, adequate sanitation, and low levels of crime. Coethnicity reports the results of a landmark study that aimed to find out why diversity has this cooperation-undermining effect. The study, conducted in a neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, notable for both its high levels of diversity and low levels of public goods provision, hones in on the mechanisms that might account for the difficulties diverse societies often face in trying to act collectively. The Mulago-Kyebando Community Study uses behavioral games to explore how the ethnicity of the person with whom one is interacting shapes social behavior. Hundreds of local participants interacted with various partners in laboratory games simulating real-life decisions involving the allocation of money and the completion of joint tasks. Many of the subsequent findings debunk long-standing explanations for diversity's adverse effects. Contrary to the prevalent notion that shared preferences facilitate ethnic collective action, differences in goals and priorities among participants were not found to be structured along ethnic lines. Nor was there evidence that subjects favored the welfare of their coethnics over that of non-coethnics. When given the opportunity to act altruistically, individuals did not choose to benefit coethnics disproportionately when their actions were anonymous. Yet when anonymity was removed, subjects behaved very differently. With their actions publicly observed, subjects gave significantly more to coethnics, expected their partners to reciprocate, and expected that they would be sanctioned for a failure to cooperate. This effect was most pronounced among individuals who were otherwise least likely to cooperate. These results suggest that what may look like ethnic favoritism is, in fact, a set of reciprocity norms—stronger among coethnics than among non-coethnics—that make it possible for members of more homogeneous communities to take risks, invest, and cooperate without the fear of getting cheated. Such norms may be more subject to change than deeply held ethnic antipathies—a powerful finding for policymakers seeking to design social institutions in diverse societies. Research on ethnic diversity typically draws on either experimental research or field work. Coethnicity does both. By taking the crucial step from observation to experimentation, this study marks a major breakthrough in the study of ethnic diversity. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust
Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement is a theoretical study of the dynamics of public-spirited collective action as well as a substantial study of the American civil rights movement and the local and national politics that surrounded it. In this major historical application of rational choice theory to a social movement, Dennis Chong reexamines the problem of organizing collective action by focusing on the social, psychological, and moral incentives of political activism that are often neglected by rational choice theorists. Using game theoretic concepts as well as dynamic models, he explores how rational individuals decide to participate in social movements and how these individual decisions translate into collective outcomes. In addition to applying formal modeling to the puzzling and important social phenomenon of collective action, he offers persuasive insights into the political and psychological dynamics that provoke and sustain public activism. This remarkably accessible study demonstrates how the civil rights movement succeeded against difficult odds by mobilizing community resources, resisting powerful opposition, and winning concessions from the government.
Past archaeological literature on cooperation theory has emphasized competition's role in cultural evolution. As a result, bottom-up possibilities for group cooperation have been under theorized in favor of models stressing top-down leadership, while evidence from a range of disciplines has demonstrated humans to effectively sustain cooperative undertakings through a number of social norms and institutions. Cooperation and Collective Action is the first volume to focus on the use of archaeological evidence to understand cooperation and collective action.
Disentangling the motivations and institutions that foster group cooperation among competitive individuals remains one of the few great conundrums within evolutionary theory. The breadth and material focus of archaeology provide a much needed complement to existing research on cooperation and collective action, which thus far has relied largely on game-theoretic modeling, surveys of college students from affluent countries, brief ethnographic experiments, and limited historic cases. In Cooperation and Collective Action, diverse case studies address the evolution of the emergence of norms, institutions, and symbols of complex societies through the last 10,000 years. This book is an important contribution to the literature on cooperation in human societies that will appeal to archaeologists and other scholars interested in cooperation research.
Divined Intervention provides an innovative institutionalist account for why religion enables political activism in some settings, but not others. Christopher W. Hale argues that decentralized religious institutions facilitate grassroots collective action, and he uses a multimethod approach to test this explanation against several theoretical alternatives. Utilizing nationally representative Mexican survey data, the book’s statistical analyses demonstrate that decentralization by the Catholic Church is positively associated with greater individual political activism across the country. Using case studies centered in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Yucata´n, and Morelos, the author shows that religious decentralization encourages reciprocal cooperative interactions at a local level. This then increases the ability of religion to provide goods and services to its local adherents. These processes then prompt the growth of organizational capacities at the grassroots, enabling secular political activism.
Because this theoretical framework is grounded in human behavior, it shows how local institutions politically organize at the grassroots level. Divined Intervention also offers an improved understanding of religion’s relationship with political activism, a topic of ever-increasing significance as religion fuels political engagement across the globe. The book further synthesizes seemingly disparate approaches to the study of collective action into a cohesive framework. Finally, there is some debate as to the impact of ethnic diversity on the provision of public goods, and this study helps us understand how local institutional configurations can enable collective action across ethnic boundaries.
Until the New Deal, most groups seeking protection from imports were successful in obtaining relief from Congress. In general the cost of paying the tariffs for consumers was less than the cost of mounting collective action to stop the tariffs. In 1934, with the passage of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, all of this changed. The six decades that followed have produced a remarkable liberalization of trade policy in the United States. This occurred despite the fact that domestic politics, according to some of the best developed theories, should have prevented this liberalization.
Michael Gilligan argues that liberalization has succeeded because it has been reciprocal with liberalization in other countries. Our trade barriers have been reduced as an explicit quid pro quo for reduction of trade barriers in other countries. Reciprocity, Gilligan argues, gives exporters the incentive to support free trade policies because it gives them a clear gain from free trade and thus enables the exporters to overcome collective action problems. The lobbying by exporters, balancing the interests of groups seeking protection, changes the preferences of political leaders in favor of more liberalization.
Gilligan tests his theory in a detailed exploration of the history of American trade policy and in a quantitative analysis showing increases in the demand for liberalization as the result of reciprocity in trade legislation from 1890 to the present. This book should appeal to political scientists, economists, and those who want to understand the political underpinnings of American trade policy.
Michael J. Gilligan is Assistant Professor of Politics, New York University.
In How Humans Cooperate, Richard E. Blanton and Lane F. Fargher take a new approach to investigating human cooperation, developed from the vantage point of an "anthropological imagination." Drawing on the discipline’s broad and holistic understanding of humans in biological, social, and cultural dimensions and across a wide range of temporal and cultural variation, the authors unite psychological and institutional approaches by demonstrating the interplay of institution building and cognitive abilities of the human brain.
Blanton and Fargher develop an approach that is strongly empirical, historically deep, and more synthetic than other research designs, using findings from fields as diverse as neurobiology, primatology, ethnography, history, art history, and archaeology. While much current research on collective action pertains to local-scale cooperation, How Humans Cooperate puts existing theories to the test at larger scales in markets, states, and cities throughout the Old and New Worlds.
This innovative book extends collective action theory beyond Western history and into a broadly cross-cultural dimension, places cooperation in the context of large and complex human societies, and demonstrates the interplay of collective action and aspects of human cognitive ability. By extending the scope and content of collective action theory, the authors find a fruitful new path to understanding human cooperation.
This book develops an original theory of group and organizational behavior that cuts across disciplinary lines and illustrates the theory with empirical and historical studies of particular organizations. Applying economic analysis to the subjects of the political scientist, sociologist, and economist, Mancur Olson examines the extent to which individuals who share a common interest find it in their individual interest to bear the costs of the organizational effort.
The citrus industry in Belize could be said to exist primarily to satisfy the needs of people in other countries. A business that is highly dependent on global markets and the geopolitics of international trade, it comprises some 500 farmers, many hundreds of wage laborers, and two processing companies that produce frozen juice concentrate for export. This new study examines how those farmers, laborers, and companies define and pursue shared interests, and how they respond differently to the impact of national development strategies and global economic and political forces. Laurie Kroshus Medina analyzes the development of the citrus industry in Belize over fifteen years to explore the relationship between the production of collective identities and the negotiation of development policies at the interface of global and local processes. She shows how citrus farmers and workers, processing companies, and politicians compete to construct shared identities, how they mobilize collective actors, and how their collective action shapes the goals, policies, and practices associated with development. Taking an ethnographic approach, Medina describes how the Belizean citrus industry responds to cycles of boom and bust, and the implications of such cycles for workers and growers. She offers a close look at the major actors—workers, union members, small and large growers, and politicians—as they respond to global changes in the citrus industry. Her analysis is made more compelling through an account of two open struggles in the industry over the formation of a rival union and the attempt to buy the processing company, owned by the multinational corporation Nestlé. She also includes a discussion of the impact of NAFTA on the industry. Medina's research demonstrates how collective agency in Belize has pushed the citrus industry's development in directions that simultaneously conform to and diverge from the trajectories laid out by foreign agencies. Negotiating Economic Development provides a bridge from old to new studies of Latin American social movements as it offers key insights into competing forms of identity for a wide range of social scientists concerned with the human and social aspects of development issues and globalization.
Literature is powerful. It offers respite. It provides access to beauty and horror, to new places, new people, and new ideas. It can, as the phrase goes, change your life. Good things, all of them. But also somewhat limited goods: they’re all pretty passive, pretty private—you might even say self-centered.
Reading as Collective Action shifts our focus outward, to another of literature’s powers: the power to reshape our world in very public, very active ways. In this book, you will encounter readers who criticized the Bush administration’s war on terror by republishing poems by writers ranging from Shakespeare to Amiri Baraka everywhere from lampposts to the New York Times. You will read about people in Michigan and Tennessee, who leveraged a community reading program on John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath to organize support for those in need during the Great Recession and to engage with their neighbors about immigration. You will meet a pair of students who took to public transit to talk with strangers about working-class literature and a trio who created a literary website that reclaimed the working-class history of the Pacific Northwest.
This book challenges dominant academic modes of reading. For adherents of the “civic turn,” it suggests how we can create more politically effective forms of service learning and community engagement grounded in a commitment to tactical, grassroots actions. Whether you’re a social worker or a student, a zine-maker, a librarian, a professor, or just a passionate reader with a desire to better your community, this book shows that when we read texts as tactics, “that book changed my life” can become “that book changed our lives.”
The modern era has generated a bewildering profusion of popular protest including widespread social movements and sporadic revolutionary upheaval. Despite the seemingly chaotic character of such collective action, social scientists have increasingly noted the remarkable regularities exhibited by even the most tumultuous social change. In this volume, sociologists, political scientists, and historians come together to assess the complementary concepts of repertoires and cycles as tools for illuminating the consistent patterns that emerge from the apparent chaos. The significance of repertoires—recurrent forms or tactics of social protest— is explored in an essay on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain by the originator of the concept, Charles Tilly. Sidney Tarrow, whose work has most directly linked the concept of repertoires with that of cycles—the recurrent peaks and troughs in the historical incidence of collective action—contributes an essay that focuses on twentieth-century Italy. Other essays investigate the rhythms and logic of social change in contexts as diverse as sixteenth- through nineteenth-century Japan, nineteeth-century Europe, and twentieth-century America. Through inquiries into the consequences of violent repression for social mobilization, the struggle to control the linguistic terms of social conflict, the unacknowledged antecedents of contemporary movements, and the importance of "movement families," this volume demonstrates the usefulness of these two concepts and defines the relationship between them. Collected from past issues of Social Science History, with a new introduction and two new essays, Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action will reward an interdisciplinary audience of readers with the extraordinary vitality that emerges from this rich blend of historical perspectives.
Contributors. Charles Brockett, Craig Calhoun, Doug McAdam, Marc Steinberg, Sidney Tarrow, Charles Tilly, Mark Traugott, James White
The notion that groups form and act in ways that respond to objective, external costs and benefits has long been the key to accounting for social change processes driven by collective action. Yet this same notion seems to fall apart when we try to explain how collectivities emerge out of the choices of individuals. This book overcomes that dilemma by offering an analysis of collective action that, while rooted in individual decision making, also brings out the way in which objective costs and benefits can impede or foster social coordination. The resulting approach enables us to address the causes and consequences of collective action with the help of the tools of modern economic theory. To illustrate this, the book applies the tools it develops to the study of specific collective action problems such as clientelism, focusing on its connections with economic development and political redistribution; and wage bargaining, showing its economic determinants and its relevance for the political economy of the welfare state.
"Medina's study is a great step forward in the analytics of collective action. He shows the inadequacies of currently standard models and shows that straightforward revisions reconcile rational-choice and structural viewpoints. It will influence all future work."
—Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University
"Olson, Schelling, and now Medina. A Unified Theory deepens our understanding of collective action and contributes to the foundations of our field. A major work."
—Robert H. Bates, Harvard University
"Medina thinks that the main problem of social action is not whether or not to cooperate but how to do it. To this end he has produced an imaginative approach to analyzing strategic coordination problems that produces plausible predictions in a range of circumstances."
—John Ferejohn, Stanford University
Luis Fernando Medina is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.