The essays in this volume represent a dialogue between theory and data. The theory is drawn from a branch of contemporary political economy which can also be labeled the collective-choice school. The data are drawn from Africa. The book extends the methods of reasoning developed in collective choice from their original base - the advanced industrial democracies - to new territory; the literature on rural Africa. Such an extension challenges the power of this form of political economy. It also enriches it, for the central questions which motivate the contemporary study of political economy are often addressed with unique clarity in the scholarship on rural Africa.