Rational Choice Theory and Large Scale Data Analysis

Rational Choice Theory and Large Scale Data Analysis

Rational Choice Theory and Large Scale Data Analysis

Rational Choice Theory and Large Scale Data Analysis


Though rational-choice theory is well-established in sociology & economics, its influence on quantitative empirical sociology is limited. This book examines why there is hardly a link between the two & how they could be more integrated in the future.


Rational choice theory is well-established in both sociology and economics. However, its influence on quantitative empirical sociology has been surprisingly limited. This volume describes why there has hardly been a link between the two and discusses how they could be more fruitfully integrated in the future. The book concentrates on the interrelationship between actor-oriented theoretical approaches and longitudinal analyses of life courses and emphasizes the problems in formulating and testing causal hypotheses. It explores the possibilities for explaining social action and making predictions.

The chapters in this book are not a simple collection of disparate contributions but present a dialogue by scientists from different theoretical positions. The key strength of the book is its focus on the possibilities for linking rational action theory and large-scale data analysis. It outlines fields of sociological investigation in which the combination of the quantitative analysis of large-scale data sets (QAD) and rational action theories (RAT) could be necessary or useful, and which assumptions have to be made to link the two. At the end of the book, a dynamic combination of micro-sociological action theory and structural analysis on the macro- sociological level is proposed.

The book has been a collective effort and illustrates what can be achieved through a cooperation between empirical practitioners and theorists in sociology. The common perspective was developed through an international workshop held at the university of Bremen in spring 1996. The papers were subsequently revised and linked together. This process lead to a better understanding of the relationship between RAT and QAD and of the multi-faceted problems of linking both perspectives.

The idea of this joint venture stemmed from the international comparative project "Haushaltsdynamik und soziale Ungleichheit im internationalen Vergleich" (Household Dynamics and Social Inequality) and the Center for Methodology and Statistics at the "Sonderforschungsbereich 186 Statuspassagen und Risikolagen im Lebensverlauf " (Status Passages and Risks in the Life Course). We are grateful to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for supporting this workshop and our research connected with this book. As organizers of the workshop and the editors of the book, we would like to thank the individual contributers for their fruitful cooperation and for the enormous amount of work they put into the . . .

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