• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Private Desires, Political Action is an accessible overview of one of the most important approaches to the study of politics in the modern world - rational choice theory. Michael Laver does not set out to review this entire field, but rather to discuss how we might use rational choice theory to analyze the political competition that affects almost every aspect of our lives. The broad-ranging scope of the book introduces the theory at many levels of analysis, including: the private desires of individuals; the social context of how people fulfil their desires; and the problems of collective action. The discussion of these problems extends into the arena of politics, where the activities of `political entrepreneurs' or


We have just described a process in which political entrepreneurs, or politicians, form alliances, or political parties, in order to compete more effectively for contracts to supply some bundle of political services that we can think of as a regime. Politicians and/or political parties compete for the approval of a faction, or set of factions, within the population which is in a position to impose its will upon the public as a whole, in the sense that there is not a rival set of factions with both the coercive power and the common purpose to oppose this.

The more nearly equal (or uncertain) the distribution of coercive resources in the population, then the more likely it is that a group that can impose its will ...

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