Collective Action Problem - Essay Sample

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Collective action means the pooling of resources and the coordination of effort and activity by a group, often a large one to achieve common goals ("Solving the Collective Action Problem," n.d.). As a result, the problems of collective action are the problems inherent in the commitment of a group to reach and implement agreements

Collection action problem also defined as a situation where people are individually better off trying a free ride and benefit from a public good without contributing to it, but people as a group would be better off if they all participated.

How do political parties solve a collective problem?

Coordination means that members of the group must decide individually what they want, what they are prepared to do to contribute to their collective enterprise, and how to coordinate their efforts with those of the others ("Solving the Collective Action Problem," n.d.). The prisoners dilemma arises when individuals decide that even though they support some collective undertaking, they are personally better off pursuing an activity that rewards them individually despite undermining the collective effort.

Coordination problems then increase with the size of the group, for example in this case of political parties the House of Representatives against the Senate. Because the participants desiring to coordinate are many, coordination may be unachievable.

When each contribution to the success of their collective activity is quite small and inconsequential, each member will then be tempted to ride free to defect from the agreement by withholding their contribution to the groups undertaking while enjoying the benefits of the collective effort. Free riding is seen when parties recognize that their small contribution to the collective enterprise will not affect its success or failure. The tragedy of commons is similar to free riding in that large number of participants encourage each to depart on their contributions to the public good. The difference between free riding and the tragedy of Commons is that the good already exists and will be destroyed if its exploitation is not controlled. The community has a collective good that is in danger of being squandered unless members cooperate to preserve it.

The solution to the tragedy of commons is to link the individuals interest in the provision of the collective good.

Transaction costs are the time, effort, and resources required to compare preferences and make collective decisions these increases when the number of participants rises reducing transaction costs may be used intentionally.

Conformity costs are the difference between what anyone party prefers and what the collective body requires the extent to which a collective body decision obligates participants to do something they prefer not to an example is like paying one's taxes. Citizens prefer a low conformity costs.

Political parties have three roles in politics. The party that is currently in government, an alliance of current office holders cooperating to shape public policy, the party organization, dedicated to electing the parties electorate which is composed of those voters who identify with the part and regularly vote for its nominees.

The republican favor a smaller, cheaper federal government, they advocate lower taxes, less regularization of business, lower spending on social welfare, letting free enterprise flourish, more generous state spending only to the defense department, banning abortion and gay marriage, allowing officials prayer in public schools.

The Democrats favor more regulation of business on behalf of consumers and the environment, more support of government programs designed to improve domestic welfare, less spending on national defence more fairness and equality support for legal abortion.

There is a whole lot of different players when we discuss political parties. For example in congress parties are the principal organizing force in Congress. The create a system of leadership, through the speaker, majority and minority leader, and whips who communicate leadership and strategies. The majority party helps brings coalitions to enact laws, they schedule legislations, they coordinate committee activity they work with minority part, creates a system of leadership (speaker)majority and minority leader, and whips-who communicate leadership and strategies. The majority party help brings coalitions to enact laws, they schedule legislations, they coordinate committee activity, they work with the minority party, creates a system of leadership (Speaker). Note that increased polarization means members are more willing to vote along party lines and follow party leaders; they want to be part of an effective team not part of a team that voters consider too divided to accomplish anything. Especially members of the Presidents party slash majority have the incentive to work together to help him succeed. CAP-Greater in the House than in the Senate. Through the committee systemspecialization leads to more efficiency!! (distributive).We have joined committees even that coordinate House and Senatetalk about three functions/purposes of committees. We even have caucuses nowgroups within Congress formed by members to pursue common interests. Ex: Congressional Black Caucus, the vehicle for cooperation across chambers parties and committees. Becoming increasingly essential actors in the congressional process.

How to solve collective action problems in the Electoral System

Electoral system is the set of rules that structure how votes are cast at election for a representative assembly and how those votes are converted into seats in the assembly

There are five categories of the electoral system namely the single-member districts, mixed systems, closed list systems, preferential list systems, proportional representation and single transferable vote

The Electoral system has various characteristics that define it the district magnitude, ballot structure, choice of candidates within parties, limits on proportionality.

The collective action problem will occur when everyone in a particular state would like some public good to be produced in this case electing a good leader but prefer others to do the work that is voting to present the results. The problem persists in this case because the group is large and the impact of each contribution is low.

Voting in a sizeable democratic society must, therefore, constitute a dilemma of collective action in the extreme. The "voting paradox," as described by political scientist Anthony Downs more than half a century ago, asks why the vote no longer represents a collective action problem of what it does. Costs outweigh the benefits for the single voter, and clearly, the individual has a small impact on the outcome of the election. If no one voted, democracy would collapse.

How interest groups solve various collective action problems

any organization that seeks to influence government policy, but not to govern.

Lisa Young and Joanna Everitt. 2004. Advocacy Groups. Vancouver, UBC Press. pg. 5.

Interest groups are an organized group of individuals or organizations that make policy related appeals to government

The interest groups first, they try to survive, influence governmental policy

Collective action becomes contentious when it is used by people who lack regular access to institutions, who act in the name of new or unaccepted claims, and who behave in ways that fundamentally challenge others or authorities (Tucker, 2007).

The interest groups must overcome collective action problems for them to be productive. The collective action problem may occur when the people do not have the incentive to take action. Many people may have concerns with environmental protection or gun control, but the interests are not strong enough to warrant them to become politically active.

The problem of free riding can be overcome in many ways. Where groups have financial resources, they can give incentives to members or even hire a lobbyist. Smaller teams have an advantage of their opinions were similar and thus easy to reach a consensus hence no free riding.

Free riding may be solved by private inducements offered so that individuals perform those actions the collective effort requires if it is to succeed.

Group leaders may also help by providing material incentives, which are tangible benefits of joining a group.


Collective Action Goes Digital. (2016). Political Turbulence, 1-33. Doi: 10.1515/9781400873555-004

Chapter Four. Collective Action and the New Literature on Interest Groups. (n.d.). Basic Interests. doi:10.1515/9781400822485.64

Meyer, D. S., & Tarrow, S. G. (1998). The social movement society: Contentious politics for a new century. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Meyer, D. S., & Tarrow, S. G. (1998). The social movement society: Contentious politics for a new century.

Solving the Collective Action Problem. (n.d.). Gentrification and Schools. doi:10.1057/9781137009005.0008

Tucker, J. A. (2007). Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-Communist Colored Revolutions. Perspectives on Politics, 5(03), 535. Doi: 10.1017/s1537592707071538

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