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Social choice among complex objects


  • Luigi Marengo
  • Simona Settepanella


We present a geometric model of social choice when the latter takes place among bundles of interdependent elements, that we will call objects. We show that the outcome of the social choice process is highly dependent on the way these bundles are formed. By bundling and unbundling the same set of constituent elements an authority has the power of determine the social outcome. We provide necessary and sufficient conditions under which a social outcome may be a local or global optimum for a set of objects, and we show that, by appropriately redefining the set of objects, intransitive cycles may be broken and the median voter may be turned into a loser.

Suggested Citation

  • Luigi Marengo & Simona Settepanella, 2010. "Social choice among complex objects," LEM Papers Series 2010/02, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2010/02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fryer Roland & Jackson Matthew O., 2008. "A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-44, February.
    2. Plott, Charles R & Levine, Michael E, 1978. "A Model of Agenda Influence on Committee Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(1), pages 146-160, March.
    3. Weinberger, Shmuel, 2004. "On the topological social choice model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 377-384, April.
    4. Callander, Steven & Wilson, Catherine H., 2006. "Context-dependent Voting," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(3), pages 227-254, July.
    5. Yuliy M. Baryshnikov, 1997. "Topological and discrete social choice: in a search of a theory," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 14(2), pages 199-209.
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    7. Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Coarse Thinking and Persuasion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 577-619.
    8. Bernholz, Peter, 1974. "Logrolling, Arrow-Paradox and Decision Rules-A Generalization," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 49-62.
    9. Luigi Maregno & Corrado Pasquali, 2008. "A computational voting model," LEM Papers Series 2008/24, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
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    11. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1983. "Social choice and game theory: recent results with a topological approach," MPRA Paper 8059, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Chichilnisky, Graciela, 1980. "Social choice and the topology of spaces of preferences," MPRA Paper 8006, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luigi Marengo & Corrado Pasquali, 2010. "How to get what you want when you do not know what you want. A model of incentives, organizational structure and learning," LEM Papers Series 2010/08, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Gennaro Amendola & Luigi Marengo & Simona Settepanella, 2012. "Decidability and manipulability in social choice," LEM Papers Series 2012/11, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    3. Luigi Marengo & Davide Pirino & Simona Settepanella & Akimichi Takemura, 2012. "Decidability in complex social choices," LEM Papers Series 2012/12, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

    More about this item


    social choice; object construction power; agenda power; intransitive cycles; median voter;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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