Sociological Forum

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 499–524 | Cite as

Trails of involvement: Evidence for local games

  • Eric M. Leifer


Game theory seeks solutions that would eliminate the need to actually play games and hence cannot explain why some games are played out, often with skills that are widely admired and emulated. This paper makes the conditions required to play (rather than solve) a game its starting point and focuses on the local skills that underlie the ensuing involvement. Data from tournament chess reveals that highly-skilled players are the best at sustaining involvement, yet also the best at terminating the game when the outcome becomes apparent, suggesting that involvement should stand alongside rationality as divergent ideals in social action. This bifurcation in skill can produce cooperation in the midst of conflict, or vice versa, and hence send local actions in the opposite direction of stated global goals.


Opposite Direction Game Theory Social Action Social Issue Local Action 
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Copyright information

© the Eastern Sociological Society 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric M. Leifer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel Hill

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