A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together on a specific project(s) to achieve a common objective.[citation needed] Collectives differ from cooperatives in that they are not necessarily focused upon an economic benefit or saving (but can be that as well). There may be some issues with meaningfully describing the qualities of a collective.


Discursive dilemma

Princeton philosopher Philip Pettit says there are hidden challenges of describing the group as though it were a single individual, a metaphorical agent - the way the law sometimes talks about corporations. It is a mistake, he says, to think things can be that simple. In reality, it can be difficult to construct a model of the "group mind" by merely asking for a majority opinion. This is because different questioning can change one's conception of the group completely (even if we assume the answers are honest and true).[1]

For example, consider four individuals on an island: Alex, Sam, Pat and Joe. The group finds one day that their food supply has gone missing, and it seems quite likely that Joe stole them. Innocent until proven guilty, the remaining three island citizens must vote on the truth of 2 criteria for guilt: (1)Joe must have been around the area (2)Joe must be the kind of person to commit such a crime.

A diagram illustrating the different group opinions

The paradox emerges depending on how the group "majority opinion" is collected. To continue with the example, when asked to vote on the conclusion "did Joe steal the food?" - the group believes that Joe does NOT meet the criteria for guilt. Asked in detail about each premise, however, the group reveals that both Alex and Sam voted for premise 1 (the majority believes Joe was in the area) but also that both Alex and Pat voted for premise 2 (the majority believes Joe has a thieving personality). Thus, asked in detail about majority opinion on the premises, we now get the result that the group believes premise 1 and 2, and thus the group believes that Joe DOES meet the criteria for guilt. This is a paradox.[1]

Pettit believes that the lesson of this paradox is that there is no simple way to aggregate individual opinions into a single, coherent "group entity". These ideas are relevant to Sociology, which endeavors to understand and predict group behaviour. Petitt warns that we need to understand groups because they can be very powerful, can effect greater change, and yet the group as a whole may not have a strong conscience (see Diffusion of responsibility). He says we sometimes fail to hold groups (e.g. corporations) responsible because of these difficulties, but maintains that groups should have limited rights and various obligations and checks on power[1]

Types of groups

Collectives are sometimes characterised by attempts to share and exercise political and social power and to make decisions on a consensus-driven and egalitarian basis.

A commune or intentional community, which may also be known as a "collective household", is a group of people who live together in some kind of dwelling or residence, or in some other arrangement (e.g. sharing land). Collective households may be organized for a specific purpose (e.g. relating to business, parenting, or some other shared interest).

The term "collective" is sometimes used to describe a species as a whole—for example, the "human collective."

A "street artist collective", sometimes referred to as a "graffiti crew" or in other instances simply an "artist collective" is typically a collection of individuals with similar interests in producing and documenting street art as a group. These "street artist collectives" or "graffiti crews" are often composed of friends or friends of friends from all walks of life with different beliefs, careers, & religions. These collectives can range in size from a few people to thousands of members. The style of art produced by these groups can have vast differences. The motivations behind the work they produce can be for a common cause or individually motivated purposes. Some collectives are simply people who enjoy painting with someone else and have no other goals or motivations for forming their collective.

A "work collective" is a type of horizontal collectivism wherein a business functions as a partnership of individual professionals, recognizing them as equals and rewarding them for their expertise. The working collective aims to reduce costs to clients while maintaining healthy rewards for participating partners. This is accomplished by eliminating the operating costs that are needed to support levels of management.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ PRWeb Santa Monica, February 26, 2010. At One Year, New Agency Structure Succeeds: Commitment to Small Business Continues [1]

Further reading

  • For All The People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America, PM Press, by John Curl, 2009, ISBN 978-1-60486-072-6

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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