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Uhlaner, C. J. (1989). Relational Goods and Participation: Incorporating Sociability into a Theory of Rational Action. Public Choice 62, 253-285.

Theoretical explanations of why rational individuals would participate in politics remain unsatisfactory. This paper addresses the problem by developing and analyzing models which include among citizens' payoffs “relational goods,” objectives which depend upon interactions among persons. The models predict more participation than do the standard approaches. For example, under some circumstances persons will be more likely to act if they believe others will act, contrary to free-rider logic. More importantly, conditions are identified under which leaders could increase mass activity. Thus, a model is provided of “mobilization” in terms of the preferences and decisions of a rational individual.


Uhlaner, Carol J.

Professor Uhlaner works in the field of comparative political behavior, notably in North America and Western Europe. She is particularly interested in understanding mass political participation and mass-elite linkages. She has worked on theories of social choice and rationality and has used this...

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