sociological rational choice bounded rationality and social capital soc 331

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Kindly look at the readings below in order to understand the concepts of Rational Choice, Bounded Rationality, and Social Capital

(Sociological Rational Choice, Bounded Rationality, and Social Capital)

In contrast to theories of inequality and power, which emphasize the structural constraints that influence individual decision-making, rational-choice theory focuses on how individuals employ cost-benefit analysis as an explanatory mechanism for why people do what they do. In classical rational-choice theory, utility-maximizing drives individual behavior. Social phenomena are therefore understood as aggregations of individual rational decisions. These ideas have been imported largely from the field of economics into sociology.

Traditional rational-choice theories, while influential, have been significantly critiqued by subsequent generations of sociologists. One criticism is that it is difficult to show that people act according to a strict cost-benefit framework in social settings. Rather than reject the theory altogether, Rojas advocates updating the theory to account for how rationality works in social contexts.

We will review the basic concepts of rational choice theory as it pertains to sociology and subsequently review the critique of this explanation for social behavior. Following Rojas, emphasis will be placed on how rational choice theories can be amended and profitably applied to social research.


1-Rojas, Theory for the Working Sociologist, Chapter 3, p. 77-90….(chapter will be uploaded)


-Breen, R., #038; Goldthorpe, J. H. 1997. “Explaining Educational Differentials: Towards a Formal Rational Action Theory.” Rationality and Society 9(3):275-305

-Granovetter, M. S. 1973. “The Strength of Weak Ties.” American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360-1380. (link will be provided can also be found online)

3-Next, I’d like you to watch Season 1, Episode 1 of “The Wire,” a 7-season HBO series about life in East and West Baltimore.

-In the first season–a prologue to the series–you’ll be introduced to social worlds that are separate, e.g., the police and the drug dealers. You will see separate systems of justice and very different social norms. I am appending the writing assignment, which requires you to select an element of the theories to explain what you’ll be watching.


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