Public Choice

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 253–285

“Relational goods” and participation: Incorporating sociability into a theory of rational action

  • Carole Jean Uhlaner

DOI: 10.1007/BF02337745

Cite this article as:
Uhlaner, C.J. Public Choice (1989) 62: 253. doi:10.1007/BF02337745


Theoretical explanations of why rational individuals would participate in politics remain unsatisfactory. This paper addresses the problem by developing and analyzing models which include among citizens' payoffs “relational goods,” objectives which depend upon interactions among persons. The models predict more participation than do the standard approaches. For example, under some circumstances persons will be more likely to act if they believe others will act, contrary to free-rider logic. More importantly, conditions are identified under which leaders could increase mass activity. Thus, a model is provided of “mobilization” in terms of the preferences and decisions of a rational individual.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole Jean Uhlaner
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvine

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