Collective action

Collective action involves actors working together voluntarily to achieve a collective interest, a collective good, such as defence, justice, health care, price agreements, nature conservation or environmental protection. Collective action produces both a collective to coordinate the actions of the members and a collective good from which all can benefit. Such a cooperation process is also referred to as a collectivisation process (De Swaan, 1989, p. 14).

Welfare theorists have developed many models to describe the features of decision-making and the logical dilemmas that can occur in the collectivisation process. The two-person decision-making game known as the Prisoner's

Dilemma is the most important principle here (Van den Doel, 1993; De Swaan, 1989; Pellikaan, 1994). It has been shown many times using this game that, in the course of collective action, such dilemmas that make cooperation impossible might arise for the participants.

However, in practice, cooperation does prove possible, despite the problems on paper. De Swaan (1989) has shown that if knowledge from historical sociology is added to the models from welfare theory it is possible to explain why these logical dilemmas do not always occur in practice. This historical view allows processes of change that occur during cooperation to be described, thus indicating how the logical dilemmas are solved. More dynamic models of decision-making in collective action have now been produced using this knowledge (Pellikaan, 1994).

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