Theory: Sociology and Rational Choice Theory Essay

Submitted By mizzsuccessful
Words: 463
Pages: 2

Social Theory
Feb. 28, 2013
James S. Coleman * Born in Indiana, 1926-1995 * Ph. D from Columbia * Studied with Merton * Taught at University * Dissertation on Industrial Sociology * Next examined education and race * Responsible for proposing school busting policy * Then looked at mathematical sociology * Finally in 1989 developed Rational Choice Theory * Foundations of social theory * Wrote 28 books, 301 articles, and founded a journal * Saw “intervention” as essential role for sociologists
Rational Choice Theory * Also called Rational Actor Model * Borrow heavily from economic assumptions * Microsociological (also Mead) * Useful because most data uses individuals * “Persons act purposively toward a goal, with the goal shaped by values or preferences” (Sums up rational choice theory) * Build on combination of quantitative research and theory * “Within the limits of their information and available choices, guided by their preferences and tastes, humans will tend to maximize.” * Four key elements * Rational * People weigh the benefits and costs when making a decision * Not the same as acting “sanely” * Choice * Individual actions lead to social structures * It’s just us falling certain patterns in society * we don’t make a lot of choice our choices are made for us by society * Actor * People who engage in activities and interactions * Resources * Things that actors controlled and are interested in * Ex: power within a society, money
Preferences and Values * Source of difference in choices * Influenced by socialization and beliefs
* Why are people willing to follow norms and laws within a society? * Punishment * Keeps order within a society * Don’t want to be dislike * Coleman answers: Rational Choice: surrender personal liberties to gain partial control of others actions * If you give up this right people want do things to you, but if you don’t give up that right you will have to stuffer the consequences * Ex: Breaking into someone house and the norm of that will be going to jail * Consensus of enough people makes this societal standard