This volume serves as an introduction to the new field of positive political economy and the various economic and political processes with which it is concerned. Grounded in the rational-actor methodology of microeconomics, positive political economy is devoted to the dual analysis of the role of economic behavior in political processes and of political behavior and constraints in economic exchange. The field has focused on three main subjects of study: models of collective action in industrialized democracies; the organization of markets and alternative mechanisms of exchange in the Third World; and the analysis of the role of transaction costs in the development and functioning of political and economic institutions. Developments in all of these areas are covered in the book. In the first part of the book, two chapters are devoted to explaining the evolution of the positive political economy approach; the first chapter focusing on microfoundations and the second on macrophenomena. In the second part of the book, three chapters demonstrate applications of the approach to the analysis of various forms of economic and political organizations. In the concluding section, four chapters discuss the research programs that have developed out of four different focuses of analysis: individual decision, exchange transactions, rent-seeking and indivisibilities.
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