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Reclaiming individualismPerspectives on public policy$
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Paul Spicker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447309086

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447309086.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Individuals and collective action

Individuals and collective action

(p.138) (p.139) Part Five Individuals and collective action
Reclaiming individualism

Paul Spicker

Policy Press

There are reasons to be sceptical about whether it is possible to move from an individualist position to considering the interests of groups. The ‘impossibility theorem’ seems to imply that people might always have inconsistent preferences, and that nothing can be done by groups that is not in some way imposed. Collective action is assumed by some theorists to be unstable. There are, however, many forms of collective action, there are good, strong reasons why even self-interested individuals should cooperate, and some collaborative mechanisms have proved remarkably resilient. The main problems which public services pose for individualists are not best considered by generic criticism of collective action, but by how the position of individuals can be respected and defended within collective structures.

Keywords:   Choice, Collective action, Tragedy of the commons, Solidarity, Social protection, Public services, Government failure

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