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An evolutionary model of activist agendas in world politics

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Activists are a powerful force in world politics. They form, however, a somewhat peculiar interest group in that they are not motivated by material gain. How does a moral or ideological drive condition the activist agenda, and to what effect? In this article, we develop an evolutionary model of activist agendas in world politics. We find that individuals who are optimistic regarding aid recipients' motivations self-select into positive activism that is intended to raise funds for service-delivery organizations, while individuals who distrust donors and other members of the Northern elite engage in negative activism to criticize donors and other officials. This self-selection can explain why activists adopt seemingly irrational (i.e. unstrategic) bargaining positions in their negotiations with other actors. Counter to intuition, however, we find that even extreme optimism (pessimism) need not harm service-delivery (advocacy) organizations. Thus, it is as if an `invisible hand' guided individuals to where they are most useful.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28820/

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