This book brings together the most important theoretical work of James S. Coleman on problems of collective action. Coleman's work has formed a consistent and highly distinguished attempt to find an account of the workings of social and political processes rooted in the rationality of the individual participants. The chapters address in various ways the fundamental Hobbesian problem of order; the question of how a set of self-interested individuals can arrive at some kind of social order. The volume is organised in three parts. The essays in Part I address the problem of social choice as a fundamental problem of the functioning of social systems. Those in Part II deal with relations of power as a crucial aspect of the relations between individual actions and their social consequences. Part III considers the question of the creation of collectivities and the rights that are allocated under them. As a whole, the volume demonstrates the integration and force of the views Coleman has developed.
Table of ContentsAcknowledgements; Introduction; Part I. Collective Decisions: 1. Collective decisions; 2. Beyond Pareto optimality; 3. The possibility of a social welfare function; 4. Social action systems; 5. Why so much stability? Recontracting, trustworthiness and the stability of vote exchanges; 6. Collective decisions in a social system; Part II. Power: 7. Political money; 8. Control of collectivities and the power of a collectivity to act; 9. Constitutional power in experimental health service and delivery systems; 10. Legitimate and illegitimate use of power; 11. Processes of concentration and dispersal of power in social systems; 12. The corporate structure of the economy and its effects on income; Part III. Constitutions: 13. Individual interests and collective action; 14. Inequality, sociology and moral philosophy; 15. Individual rights and the state; 16. Rawls, Nozick and educational equality; Bibliography; Index.