Précis on the Individual as the Unit of Analysis
Pluralists disaggregate the state since they do not see the state as a unified actor. They see it as individual units jockeying to be the one’s dictating policy. This compromises their ability to reach optimal conclusions since actors are inherently constrained by the forces that put them in the position to dictate policy. Therefore they are not rational actors since they seek their own ends over those of the group (state) which leads to suboptimal outcomes. Pluralist image thinkers have applied the discipline of psychology to mitigate these effects and explain why individual and group actors might act in unity.
The pluralist assumption of the state as a nonunitary actor is a response to the realist image assumption of the state as a rational and unitary actor. Pluralist image thinkers are seeking to show that the state is not a mechanistic algebra equation where one inputs some event A into a function (the state apparatus) and ends up with the same outcome every time. Opening the “black box” of the state shows that within the function there are a multitude of variables that do not result in the same outcome every time they are passed through the function. For instances, the Cuban Missile Crisis could have played out in numerous different ways if not for individual actors choices. In the crisis, there were a significant number of “individual” actors that could be considered as acting for the United States. The Navy captains intercepting ships going to Cuba were making policy decisions but so too were the President and his advisors. These are only a few of the actors in this particular scenario. Ultimately it was the president and his advisors who set policy but in executing the Naval blockade there was the potential for a non-unified policy to emerge. Each actor’s perception of events is different and each attempts to pursue the same objective. So, pluralist scholar’s criticisms of the state as a unitary actor may be well placed. In the pluralist image the state is like a complex “web” of individual actors each acting semi-independently of each other as opposed to a human being in full, unified control of its every action.
A de-rationalization of the actor follows a deaggregation of the actor since as previously stated, each...