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

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  • Lohmann, Susanne

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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  • Lohmann, Susanne, 2000. " Collective Action Cascades: An Informational Rationale for the Power in Numbers," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 655-684, December.
  • 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, 2003. "Why Vote For Losers?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1207-1238, September.
    3. Masiliūnas, Aidas, 2017. "Overcoming coordination failure in a critical mass game: Strategic motives and action disclosure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 214-251.
    4. Strulik Holger, 2007. "Steht auf, wenn ihr Deutsche seid!: Sozio-ökonomische Erklärungsansätze der neuen Patriotismuswelle anläßlich der Fußball-WM," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 58(2), pages 151-163, August.
    5. McMurray, Joseph, 2017. "Voting as communicating: Mandates, multiple candidates, and the signaling voter's curse," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 199-223.

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