Collective Action Cascades: An Informational Rationale for the Power in Numbers
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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Volume (Year): 14 (2000)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
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