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. Collectives differ from cooperative
A cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit...

s 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).

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.

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.

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
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, 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
Diffusion of responsibility
Diffusion of responsibility is a sociopsychological phenomenon. It refers to the tendency of any individual person to avoid taking action, or refraining from action, when others are present. Considered a form of attribution, the individual assumes that either others are responsible for taking...

). 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

Types of groups

Collectives are sometimes characterised by attempts to share and exercise political
Political power
Political power is a type of power held by a group in a society which allows administration of some or all of public resources, including labour, and wealth. There are many ways to obtain possession of such power. At the nation-state level political legitimacy for political power is held by the...

 and social
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

 power and to make decisions on a consensus-driven and egalitarian
Egalitarianism is a trend of thought that favors equality of some sort among moral agents, whether persons or animals. Emphasis is placed upon the fact that equality contains the idea of equity of quality...


A commune
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

 or intentional community
Intentional community
An intentional community is a planned residential community designed to have a much higher degree of teamwork than other communities. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They...

, 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
Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood...

, 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
Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

 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.

See also

  • Collective farming
    Collective farming
    Collective farming and communal farming are types of agricultural production in which the holdings of several farmers are run as a joint enterprise...

  • Collectivism
    Collectivism is any philosophic, political, economic, mystical or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human in some collective group and the priority of group goals over individual goals. Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation...

  • Kibbutz
    A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

  • Law collective
    Law collective
    A law collective is a non-hierarchical organization which provides legal services to a community or communities in need. Such work ranges from traditional criminal defense, to advocacy on behalf of immigrants, to legal support at large and small protests, to "Know Your Rights" and other...

  • Mutual aid
  • Worker cooperative
    Worker cooperative
    A worker cooperative is a cooperative owned and democratically managed by its worker-owners. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which...

  • Workplace democracy
    Workplace democracy
    Workplace democracy is the application of democracy in all its forms to the workplace....

  • Voluntary association
    Voluntary association
    A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

  • Collective bargaining
    Collective bargaining
    Collective bargaining is a process of negotiations between employers and the representatives of a unit of employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions...

  • Artist collective
    Artist collective
    An artist collective is an initiative that is the result of a group of artists working together, usually under their own management, towards shared aims...

  • Musical collective
    Musical collective
    Musical collective is a phrase used to describe a group of musicians in which membership is flexible and creative control is shared. Such entities have transitioned from the traditional hierarchical configuration that features either a frontman , or a plurality of band members in tension for...

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

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.