In a society, the behavior of the individuals must be coordinated through social interaction. This social interaction takes many forms ranging from cooperation to competition. In the process of resolving the allocation problem through social interaction, a set of institutions, organizations, beliefs, principles, perspectives and commonly held values are created. Society, guided by these values, perceptions and beliefs and constrained by institutions, technology and resource endowment, must solve the problem of provisioning. The specific uses of goods and resources must be determined.

These choices involve which resources to use, which goods to produce, who will bear the costs and who will benefit. The basic problem is the coordination of the choices and behavior of individuals. Finding a way to protect the autonomy of the individual while coordinating their behavior to provide for the commonweal has been an important goal of most great writers on social topics.