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
Josep M. Colomer
Many definitions of politics emphasize the conflictual aspect of human relations. But cooperation should be considered the essential element of politics even if it is not always achieved at the degree that would produce optimum results. Cooperation is action for the common benefit. Only human beings are able to cooperate and abide by collective rules for their common interests, including making exchanges in their mutual benefit, forming coalitions and stable organizations, making enforceable decisions on collective affairs, and living in large communities under shared norms. This entry describes some of the aspects of human existence in which cooperation can play a key role, examines ways in which game theory can illuminate the nature of cooperation, and discusses some of the factors that are important in developing and maintaining cooperation. All fundamental problems in politics face the crucial question of how, under what circumstances, and to what extent human beings can ...