Chapter 10: The spatial model of social choice and voting
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.
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