Handbook of Social Choice and Voting

Handbook of Social Choice and Voting

Edited by Jac C. Heckelman and Nicholas R. Miller

This Handbook provides an overview of interdisciplinary research related to social choice and voting that is intended for a broad audience. Expert contributors from various fields present critical summaries of the existing literature, including intuitive explanations of technical terminology and well-known theorems, suggesting new directions for research.

Chapter 10: The spatial model of social choice and voting

Nicholas R. Miller

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory, politics and public policy, political economy, public choice


This chapter presents the basic elements of the standard spatial model commonly used as a framework for developing theories of legislative, electoral, and other forms of social choice and voting and increasingly used in empirical analyses as well. It builds on Chapters 6 and 7 by placing concepts introduced there in a spatial context, and it lays out groundwork for the remaining chapters in Part III and the first two chapters in Part V. The ‘spatial model’ is often associated with the work of Anthony Downs (1957, Chapter 8), who drew on some remarks by Harold Hotelling (1929) to propose that two candidates or parties competing for the support of an electoral majority ‘converge to the center’ (as discussed in Chapters 12 and 13 in this volume). However, the origins of the formal spatial model of social choice lie in Duncan Black’s (1948, 1958) attempt to build a ‘pure science of politics’ founded on ‘a point-set representing motions’ to be voted on by a ‘committee’ (that is, a small set of voters). In effect, Black and Downs formalized the notion of the left-right political spectrum that originated with the seating arrangements in the National Assembly at the time of the French Revolution.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information