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Personal Influence, Collective Rationality, and Mass Political Action

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  • Finkel, Steven E.
  • Muller, Edward N.
  • Opp, Karl-Dieter

Abstract

We propose two models to explain why individuals participate in collective political action—a personal influence model and a collective rationality model. Each model overcomes the free-rider problem posed by conventional rational choice theory and left unresolved in previous research. The models are tested for legal and illegal protest behaviors, using data from a national sample and two samples of protest-prone communities in the Federal Republic of Germany. The personal influence model is supported for both forms of participation, while the collective rationality model is supported for legal protest. We discuss implications of the results for grievance and rational choice theories of collective political action.

Suggested Citation

  • Finkel, Steven E. & Muller, Edward N. & Opp, Karl-Dieter, 1989. "Personal Influence, Collective Rationality, and Mass Political Action," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 885-903, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:03:p:885-903_08
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    Cited by:

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    2. Kirsten Thommes & Agnes Akkerman & René Torenvlied & Marieke Born, 2014. "The dark side of solidarity: social norms and social relations in the aftermath of strikes," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 348-367, July.
    3. Joshua R. Hendrickson & Alexander William Salter, 2016. "A Theory of Why the Ruthless Revolt," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 295-316, November.
    4. Yung Yau, 2018. "Tripartite Efficacy Beliefs and Homeowner Participation in Multi-Owned Housing Governance," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(9), pages 1-17, September.
    5. Scott Helfstein, 2014. "Social capital and terrorism," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(4), pages 363-380, August.
    6. Leeson, Peter T., 2010. "Rational choice, Round Robin, and rebellion: An institutional solution to the problems of revolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 297-307, March.
    7. Dagaev, Dmitry & Lamberova, Natalia & Sobolev, Anton, 2019. "Stability of revolutionary governments in the face of mass protest," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    8. Johnston Birchall & Richard Simmons, 2004. "What Motivates Members to Participate in Co‐operative and Mutual Businesses?," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(3), pages 465-495, September.
    9. Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard, 2013. "It’s the weather, stupid! Individual participation in collective May Day demonstrations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 251-271, June.
    10. Sheely, Ryan, 2015. "Mobilization, Participatory Planning Institutions, and Elite Capture: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 251-266.
    11. Congleton, Christopher, 2009. "Results of the Fall 2007 UC Davis Campus Travel Assessment," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt2547k6pt, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    12. Andrew Marcum & David Skarbek, 2014. "Why didn’t slaves revolt more often during the Middle Passage?," Rationality and Society, , vol. 26(2), pages 236-262, May.
    13. Joseph DiGrazia, 2014. "Individual Protest Participation in the United States: Conventional and Unconventional Activism," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(1), pages 111-131, March.

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