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Groups, Representation and DemocracyBetween Promise and Practice$
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Darren R. Halpin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719076527

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719076527.001.0001

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Making Olson work: rejuvenating ‘supply-side’ explanations

Making Olson work: rejuvenating ‘supply-side’ explanations

Chapter:
(p.169) 7 Making Olson work: rejuvenating ‘supply-side’ explanations
Source:
Groups, Representation and Democracy
Author(s):

Darren Halpin

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719076527.003.0007

This chapter scrutinizes the argument of Mancur Olson regarding collective action. His thesis has been instrumental in fostering pessimism about the democratic potential of groups. This chapter argues that while his predictions are right, for representation groups, his reliance on a dominant and wide-spread self-interested rationality is a weakness in his framework. Instead, this chapter argues that the reason they work is not to do with the rationality of joiners, but the way the group constructs and legitimizes a passive form of group affiliation. Thus, Olson works as much because of a supply-side, as a demand-side, phenomenon.

Keywords:   Mancur Olson, collective action, democratic potential, pessimism, representation groups, group affiliation, supply-side, demand-side

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