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Collective Action Cascades: An Informational Rationale for the Power in Numbers

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  • Lohmann, Susanne
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    Abstract

    Self-interested individuals pursue their goals rationally taking into account the constraints imposed by their environment and best-responding to the strategic behavior of other individuals: when applied to collective action, economic theory predicts undersupply. Meanwhile, the behavior of masses of people is described as excitable, emotional, irrational, suggestible, hypnotic, disorderly, and unpredictable: in practice, it seems, collective action is oversupplied, and erratically so. The contagious and volatile dynamics of collective action appear to defy rationalization. I conceptualize a social movement as a dynamic informational cascade. Turbulences emerge endogenously from rational individual behavior. Disorderly mass behavior is a by-product of a powerful decentralized mechanism of information aggregation. Copyright 2000 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd

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    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economic Surveys.

    Volume (Year): 14 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 5 (December)
    Pages: 655-84

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:14:y:2000:i:5:p:655-84

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    Cited by:
    1. Nicolas Olsson-Yaouzis, 2012. "An evolutionary dynamic of revolutions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 497-515, June.
    2. Micael Castanheira De Moura, 2003. "Why vote for losers?," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10005, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Strulik, Holger, 2006. "Steht auf, wenn ihr Deutsche seid! Sozio-ökonomische Erklärungsansätze der neuen Patriotismuswelle anläßlich der Fußball-WM," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-343, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.

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