A critical realist perspective on collective action in economics

Vol. 37 No. 1 (2017)

Jan-Mar / 2017
Published February 26, 2020
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))
PDF-Portuguese (Português (Brasil))

How to Cite

Duarte Pimentel, Thiago, and Rodrigo Siqueira Rodriguez. 2017. “A Critical Realist Perspective on Collective Action in Economics”. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy 37 (1):208-25. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-31572016v37n01a11.

A critical realist perspective on collective action in economics

Thiago Duarte Pimentel
Docente Permanente do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Sociais - Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora - UFJF.
Rodrigo Siqueira Rodriguez
Doutorando em Economia no Programa de Pós-Graduação em Economia da Universidade Federal Fluminense – PPGE/UFF
Brazilian Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 37 No. 1 (2017), Jan-Mar / 2017, Pages 208-225


The mainstream of traditional economics assumes that the analyses of the economic relations is the individual, by the economic relationship among themselves (exchange) or by the economic relationship among individuals and things (production factors). Hardly the economical science takes assumptions about collectively organized individuals. In general, when it is done, it assumes that it is an effect of aggregate actions of isolated individuals, which means it lays on the grounds of methodological individualism. In microeconomics, for example, a statement about a group of individuals, a firm or a society, necessarily assumes that their actions are aggregate from the effects of individual optimizations, even if this requires very strict conditions for the individual beliefs and desires. This paper aims to present an alternative analytical framework to that paradigm, simultaneously compromised with a realist analysis and incorporating empirical and contextual elements allusive to human conduct. Positioning our emphasis in the meso-sociological level of analysis, we argue that the analysis of collective action, informed by critical realism, could be an alternative to drive the study of economics

JEL Classification: B1; B41; B5,

Keywords: Critical realism individual action collective action organization.