Rational choice theory

Rational choice theory

Yoshimichi Sato Tohoku University, Japan

abstract  The purpose of rational choice theory is to explain social phenomena by assuming rational choice at the actor’s level. To realize this purpose, the theory assumes two mechanisms: choice by actors and the macro–micro–macro transition. After explaining these mechanisms, this article first shows how rational choice theory successfully explains the problem of social order embodied in various fields. It then examines the theory’s critics and their related problems. Finally, four new new directions of the theory are proposed: more comprehensive understanding of the interaction between actors and institutions; applications of evolutionary game theory and agent-based modelling; incorporation of the concept of social identity in rational choice theory, and the extension of the coverage of rational choice theory. 

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