Social Dilemmas

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Essay: Social Dilemmas: The Anatomy of Cooperation. Kollock, Peter. Annual Review of Sociology, 24: 183-214, August 1998

Summary at http://www.cooperationcommons.com/node/390

Concept

Social Dilemmas are social problems without technical solution and where difficult trade-offs have to be made.

Two examples of social dilemmas are the Tragedy of the Commons and the Prisoner's Dilemma

Axelrod on Social Dilemmas in Cooperation

Axelrod's rules of cooperation, summarized by Peter Kollock, expert in 'social dilemma's' affecting cooperating individuals and communities

"Axelrod identifies three conditions that are necessary for even the possibility of cooperation. In other words, without these three elements there is little or no hope that cooperative relationships will emerge and persist. The first condition is that it must be likely that two individuals will meet again in the future. If this is the only time someone will be interacting with another person, or if this is the last time, there will be a great temptation to behave selfishly. Successful communities, in other words, must promote ongoing interaction. Godwin (1994) makes a similar point in his essay on principles for making virtual communities work when he stresses the importance of promoting continuity in online groups. The second condition is that individuals must be able to identify each other. The third condition is that individuals must have information about how the other person has behaved in the past. If identity is unknown or unstable and if there is no recollection or record of past interactions, individuals will be motivated to behave selfishly because they will not be accountable for their actions." (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/papers/design.htm)


More Information

A more thorough examination of social dilemma's can be found at http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/classes/cooperation/resources/Kollock%201998%20-%20Social%20Dilemmas.pdf

A thesis on the voluntary provision of public goods, and the attending dilemma’s, at http://www.magnolia.net/~leonf/sd/vpopg/vpopg.html

An introduction to the theory of social dilemmas, at http://perspicuity.net/sd/sd-1.html

Source: Social Dilemmas: The Anatomy of Cooperation. Kollock, Peter. Annual Review of Sociology, 24: 183-214, August 1998