Sociology consists of a myriad of frequently confusing concepts. Key Concepts in Sociology provides a comprehensive, lively and clearly-written guide to the most important concepts in the subject. It includes both what might be regarded as ‘classic’ sociological concepts, such as ‘class’, ‘bureaucracy’ and ‘community’, as well as subjects that have become increasingly prominent in recent times, such as ‘celebrity’, ‘risk’ and ‘the body’.

Each of the thirty-eight substantive entries: Defines the concept; provides a clear and compelling narrative; clarifies the main debates, perspectives and disagreements; gives advice on further reading

Key Concepts in Sociology should be the first choice for sociology students at all levels of learning.

Rational Choice

Rational Choice

Rational choice

Duesenberry described the difference between sociology and economics as follows:

Economics is all about how people make choices. Sociology is all about why they don't have any choices to make. (1960: 233, quoted in Granovetter, 1985: 485)

This captures sociology's concern with the extent to which structures, socialisation, and norms influence and constrain individual actions by shaping beliefs and preferences. Yet rational choice theorists such as Goldthorpe (1998) argued that, in studying social phenomena, explanatory primacy should be given to individual action and the consequences (whether intended or not) of individual action. From this perspective, ‘macro-level’ outcomes are best explained at the ‘micro-level’ by looking at what supposedly rational individuals think and do – though it is important to keep in mind that rational ...

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