Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Bargaining is an everyday activity that pervades all social life and, arguably, is the most important mode by which political decisions are made. It summarizes all social activities in which individuals or corporate actors have a common interest in working together but disagree on how they should cooperate. Bargaining is therefore a voluntary process through which negotiators try to distribute among themselves a mutual benefit. In politics, the mixture between cooperation and conflict that characterizes bargaining situations becomes apparent at all levels of decision making. An example of a recurrent, difficult bargaining process is the distribution of the taxed income of a polity between competing interest groups who advance contradicting claims to bolster their demand for a large share. Below, major game theoretical solutions to bargaining problems and their possible applications in political science are discussed. In the simplest political bargaining problem, two negotiators disagree over how to divide a ...