The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology offers a comprehensive and contemporary look at this evolving field of study. The focus is on political life itself and the chapters, written by a highly-respected and international team of authors, cover the core themes which need to be understood in order to study political life from a sociological perspective, or simply to understand the political world. The two volumes are structured around five key areas: PART 1: TRADITIONS AND PERSPECTIVES PART 2: CORE CONCEPTS PART 03: POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES AND MOVEMENTS PART 04: TOPICS PART 05: WORLD REGIONS This future-oriented and cross-disciplinary handbook is a landmark text for students and scholars interested in the social investigation of politics.
Chapter 13: Rational Choice
In this chapter we outline the contributions of Rational Choice Theory (RCT) to the study of the political sphere. Historically, the genesis of RCT and the development of modern political thought have been tightly interwoven (Levine, 1995). Utilitarianism as the intellectual predecessor of RCT strived at grounding ethics as well as theories of the state on action-theoretic assumptions. Starting with the utilitarian assumptions of independent and rational actors, the first modern political thinker Thomas Hobbes (1996 ) tried to justify absolutistic monarchy as the outcome of a voluntary contract among these actors. According to his argument, human beings are selfish and egoistic. Hence, in the absence of formal institutions, ...