Rational Choice Theory: Advocacy and Critique by James S. Coleman, Thomas J. Fararo (Key issues in sociological theory ; 7) pdf
WHAT IS RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY in sociology?
A relatively straightforward way of gaining a sense of rational choice theory in sociology is to specify three kinds of criteria that many would agree should be met if sociological theory is to be wholly satisfactory:
1. The set of phenomena to be explained by the theory is the behavior of social systems (large or small), and not the behavior of individuals.
2. Explanation of the behavior of social systems requires explanation in terms of the behavior of actors in the system, thus implying
- a. a theory of transitions between the level of social system behavior and tl>e level of behavior of individual actors, often expressed as the micro-macro problem; and
- b. a psychological theory or model of the springs of individual action.
No wholly satisfactory theory exists in sociology because no theory has been able to simultaneously meet these criteria. Different theoretical traditions can be characterized by the criterion or criteria they sacrifice or give short shrift to. These sacrifices constitute theoretical wagers that the element sacrificed is less important than those taken as problematic.
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