Table 1

Proposed solutions to participation dilemmas

A. Selective incentivesTangible rewards for participants, or penalties for non-participantsStipends for volunteers; free food, training or entertainment for group members; education on ’hook topics' that are unrelated to the primary purpose of a self-help group to attract participants.
B. Social incentivesIncentives generated by social interaction with other community membersOpportunities for building individual social capital, displays of approval of participation or disapproval of non-participation by community members.
C. Outsize stakes, intermediate goals, interdependencySituations in which the incentive structure does not produce a participation dilemmaA wealthy patron willing to build a clean water supply for the whole village; a health and sanitation club satisfied with raising awareness rather than changing behaviours; a troupe of activist street theatre performers who depend on each other for success.
D. Intrinsic benefitsPsychological or moral rewards for participation or penalties for non-participationThe benefits of being able to express outrage, gain a sense of agency, feel part of a greater cause, feel less lonely, express one’s identity, show solidarity or perform one’s moral duty.
E. Critical massAn initial group of highly motivated participants sets off a chain reaction that rapidly drives further participation upA small, initial group of street protesters against police inaction on violence against women successfully convince authorities to take action on a case of domestic violence, thereby persuading other community members to join future protests.