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Rational Choice and Political Power$
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Keith Dowding

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529206333

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529206333.001.0001

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Preferences and Objective Interests

Preferences and Objective Interests

(p.31) 3 Preferences and Objective Interests
Rational Choice and Political Power

Keith Dowding

Policy Press

One of the most controversial aspects of the study of power is the relationship to interests. Some writers take interests of a person to be as that person understands it themself. Other writers see interests as objective and humans might often believe and act in ways that against their own best interests. The chapter introduces three theses – ontological, epistemological and methodological to show how these latter objective interests can exist, can be recognized and discovered through a theory of action within context. It distinguishes need and desire and shows through the collective action problem how we can model objective interests even when people do not act in those interests. It applies the model to some classic community power studies re-interpreting their conclusions in the light of the model. It also simply demonstrates how agenda setting can affect interests.

Keywords:   interests, needs, wants, community power studies

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