When should decision-making power lie with the individual and when with a larger group?

  • Possible resources:
    • Nudge
    • The Wisdom of Crowds

Let us clear from the ground the metaphysical or general principles upon which, from time to time, laissez-faire has been founded. It is not true that individuals possess a prescriptive 'natural liberty' in their economic activities. There is no 'compact' conferring perpetual rights on those who Have or on those who Acquire. The world is not so governed from above that private and social interest always coincide. It is not so managed here below that in practice they coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the principles of economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest generally is enlightened; more often individuals acting separately to promote their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that individuals, when they make up a social unit, are always less clear-sighted than when they act separately.
- John Maynard Keynes, "The end of laissez-faire"

These look promising

there actually exists just such a branch of social science that is concerned almost exclusively with power in its manyfold forms both on the institutional and the interpersonal level, in both contemporary and historical state and non-state societies: it's a subfield of anthropology known as political anthropology. Ted Lewellen's textbook "Political Anthropology" is good introduction on what political anthropology is. Donald Kurtz's "Political Anthropology: Power and Paradigms" is another great introduction to the more fundamental study of power in anthropology.

  • PSI: The Power, Status & Influence Research Community
    • PSI is a community of scholars interested in the study of power, status, and influence. We focus primarily on the individual level of analysis, but we are also interested in how macro-level variables can affect individual behavior
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