Rational Choice

Rational choice's emergence within sociology began with the pioneering work of James Coleman in the 1960s. Drawing on the “purposive action framework” (see The Mathematics of Collective Action, 1973), he proposed an analysis of collective action that was eventually extended into analyses of social norms, marriage markets, status systems, and educational attainment (Foundations of Social Theory, 1990). His work established the theme that continued to define rational choice sociology, a focus on explaining macro-social phenomena in ways grounded in micro-social choices of social actors. As thus conceived, rational choice has two essential features. The first is a view of social action as purposive; thus behavior is oriented by a system of values, aims, or goals. The second is a commitment to some form of methodological ...

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