Collective Action

“A collective action problem is a situation in which all individuals would be better off cooperating but fail to do so because of conflicting interests between individuals that discourage joint action. The collective action problem has been addressed in political philosophy for centuries, but was most clearly established in 1965 in Mancur Olson’s The Logic of Collective Action. The collective action problem can be observed today in many areas of study, and is particularly relevant to economic concepts such as game theory and the free-rider problem that results from the provision of public goods. Additionally, the collective problem can be applied to numerous public policy concerns that countries across the world currently face.”

I read of this idea today, and although I do not know much about “game theory”, I realized it is a very similar phenomena that occurs in everyday life.

When you are at the gym and someone is clearly misusing the equipment but you do not wanna be “that guy” who gives instruction.

When we are in a movie theater and everyone is being quiet except for one particular person, and we all wait for somebody to tell that person to politely shut up…. and no one ever does.

When in high school, the helpless nerdy kid gets picked up day after day. Everyone’s afraid to say something individually, and just waiting for someone else to take the stand.

When standing in line at Wawa, and someone cuts in. Everyone knows it’s wrong but no one really cares enough to make a scene.

If not directly related, the above at the least falls under the umbrella as an everyday “real life” example.

I guess the first step is to acknowledge these occurrences.

When enough people acknowledge something that’s wrong, that is when change begins.


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