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Private Desires, Political Action

Private Desires, Political Action
An Invitation to the Politics of Rational Choice


May 1997 | 176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Private Desires, Political Action is an accessible overview of one of the most important approaches to the study of politics in the modern worldùrational choice theory. Michael Laver does not set out to review this entire field, but rather to discuss how we might use rational choice theory to analyze the political competition that affects almost every aspect of our lives. The comprehensive and broad-ranging scope of the book introduces the theory at many levels of analysis, including the private desires of individuals, the social context of how people fulfill their desires and the problems of collective action. The discussion of these issues extends into the arena of politics and explores the activities of "political entrepreneurs"(or politicians) and the formation of political parties and coalitions. Private Desires, Political Action provides a masterly and exceptionally clear survey of this fast expanding and challenging field of political science. LaverÆs elegant and witty prose is enriched throughout by vivid examples illustrating themes and points of discussion. This book will be invaluable reading for students and researchers alike in the fields of political science and political theory.

Rational Actors
Collective Action
Political Entrepreneurs, Politicians and Parties
Party Competition
The Politics of Coalition

`Private Desires, Political Action should be compulsory reading for every student of politics. This book is a rarity on at least two counts. First of all, it is an effortless yet inspiring guided tour of the contribution of rational choice theory to political science... Secondly, as Laver is concerned with substance rather than technique, he has written a very accessible book unashamedly free from mathematical formulas' - Political Studies

`With wit, style, and grace, on the one hand, and an impressive economy of presentation, on the other, Professor Michael Laver manages to embrace and envelop the entire rational choice program in political science of the past half century. He takes complicated materials and makes them transparent to the reader, not by reducing them to simplistic chat, but rather by teasing out the elemental features of the arguments and stitching them back together in an altogether reader-friendly fashion. In short, Private Desires, Political Action is a smooth and intellectually satisfying experience' - Kenneth A Shepsle, Harvard University

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