What is Politics? The conflicts and struggles over the leadership, structure, and policies of government. (Lowi, et. al.) Deciding who gets what, when, where, and how. (Lasswell)
Aspects of the study of politics Identifying and justifying values and goals Identifying and explaining trends Identifying and explaining trend conditions Project/ predict future developments Identify policy alternatives for achieving values/goals.
An Introduction to the Five Principles of Politics Throughout the semester, both the textbook and many class discussions will use the following Five Principles Of Politics to illuminate some of the central questions of American government and politics.
The Rationality Principle: All political behavior has a purpose. 1. Political behavior is goal-oriented. 2. Political actors make instrumental choices about how to act.
The Collective-Action Principle: All politics is collective action. Government requires collective social action. As the number and diversity of the relevant actors increase, so does the collective action problem.
The Institution Principle: Institutions routinely solve collective action problems. 1. Institutional arrangements provide for a division of labor, rules regarding decision making, and checks on the powers of political actors and institutions. 2. These routines and structured relationships enable cooperation that alleviates impediments to collective action.
The Policy Principle: Political outcomes are the products of individual preferences and institutional procedures. 1. Outcomes are the products of the intermingling of individual goals and institutions. 2. Individuals have competing goals that are shaped, channeled, and filtered through relevant processes.
The History Principle: History matters. 1. Historical processes shape institutions. 2. History provides a normative context through which we can understand and interpret political events and outcomes.
Collective Action Problems Coordination problems Cooperation and trust problems Prisoner’s Dilemma Tragedy of the Commons Free Riders
Understanding the difference between Tragedy of the Commons and Free Riders: A Story of Seattle OLA.
Free Riders and Olsen Small Groups Easy to deter free-riding because you can track who is not participating Large Groups (i.e., public goods) Larger the group smaller fraction of benefit enjoyed by individuals Larger the group, individual cost starts to override individual benefit Larger group means higher organizational cost, leading to less resource left for providing collective benefit. Larger group means easier to get away with not contributing.
Selective Incentives Material benefits Solidary benefits Purposive benefits
Tragedy of the Commons Overuse or misuse of common pool resources People have a hard time self regulating Rational self interest Difficulty understanding accumulative effects Difficulty in identifying offenders Two solutions Privatization Coercive government regulation
Ways to solve collective action problems Iteration— Doing the same tasks with the same people over and over. Learn to trust and reciprocate Selective Benefits People who contribute to providing the public good get something more than the public good. Privatization Don’t have public goods. Give a little of something to everyone. Coercive Authority Punish those who don’t contribute
The founding story– a lesson in politics As you read for next week What does the founding story have to say about the “who, what, when, where, and how” Were the authors of the U.S. Constitution rational actors? What collective action problems do you detect? How were these solved?