Sociology Index

Rational Choice Theory

Rational choice theory is an empirical evidence theory of human behavior. Rational choice theory is also known as rational action theory. The 'rationality' in rational choice theory is different from the colloquial meaning of rationality. Most empirical applications of rational choice employ a typical value assumption, that actors are motivated to pursue private and instrumental goods. Social echange theory is linked to structuralism and rational choice theory.

Pathologies of Rational Choice Analysis was much better designed to illustrate methodological failings than to sustain a global claim that rational choice theory has made no empirical contributions. There is empirically confirmed content specific to rational choice theory. There is a sense in which rational choice is more universal than its predecessors.

Green and Shapiro have argued that rational choice theory has produced virtually no new propositions about politics that have been carefully tested and not found wanting; and that an empirically successful rational choice theory would be no more universal than the middle-level theories that they advocate. - The Empirical Content of Rational Choice Theory - A Reply to Green and Shapiro Gary W. Cox - Journal of Theoretical Politics, Vol. 11, No. 2, 147-169 (1999).

Macro-sociology, Rational Choice Theory, and Time - A Theoretical Perspective on the Empirical Analysis of Social Processes - Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Institut für Emprischc und Angewandle Soziologie (EMPAS), University of Bremen Germany - European Sociological Review 12:181-206 1996
During the last two decades, there has been an explosion of rational choice scholarship in the social sciences.

A response to the critique of rational choice theory: Lakatos' and Laudan's conceptions applied - Kaisa Herne a; Maija Setl a - Inquiry, Volume 47, Issue 1 February 2004
Abstract: Analyses the main features of rational choice theory and evaluates it with respect to the conceptions of Lakatos' research program and Laudan's research tradition. It is argued that rational choice theory cannot be characterized as a research program. It is argued that Laudan's conception of a research tradition better characterizes rational choice theory. Certain important criticisms of rational choice theory are answered. Core assumptions of rational choice theory are countered. Misunderstanding of rational choice theory as a unified set of models, such as Lakatos' research program. Green and Shapiro's rational choice 'pathologies' are evaluated. It is argued that post hoc theory development is a better strategy for developing rational choice theory.

The Role of Values in Rational Choice Theory - MICHAEL HECHTER, University of Arizona
Rationality and Society, Vol. 6, No. 3, 318-333 (1994). This article proposes guidelines for thinking about the use of value assumptions in rational choice theory. When instrumental and immanent values are substitutable, use of the typical value assumption is justifiable.

How to model a rational choice theory of criminal action? Subjective expected utilities, norms, and interactions - Mehlkop, Guido. and Graeff, Peter
Abstract: Classic modelling of criminal behaviour in Rational Choice Theory. The decision of an actor is influenced by the expected utility of the crime and the norms which prohibit the delinquent action.

Why Rational Choice Theory Requires a Multilevel Constitutional Approach to International Economic Law - The Case for Reforming the WTO's Enforcement Mechanism
Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, European University Institute, U. of St. Gallen Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2007-19, University of Illinois Law Review, 2008
Abstract:  Trade sanctions in response to WTO violations may offer less efficient and legally less effective instruments than citizen-oriented approaches. Realism, liberalism, institutionalism and constitutionalism offer complementary rather than mutually exclusive analytical approaches and policy strategies. There are strong arguments in favor of reforming the WTO's enforcement mechanisms so as to better protect consumer welfare and other general citizen interests in open markets and judicial protection of rule of law.