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The analogy between political exchange and market exchange has occurred to many thinkers over the centuries but has been formalized in the last 100 years (see also economic man; exchange theory). Politics has been conducted in the market‐places of cities at least since the ancient Greeks. In the market analogy, voters are compared with consumers, organized interests with producers of goods, and politicians with entrepreneurs and shopkeepers. Each political actor is regarded as maximizing utility, subject to a budget constraint (that is, with only a limited amount of money or number of votes to dispose of). Like any analogy, that from the market to politics can be dangerous if followed too slavishly.

Subjects: Politics.


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