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Rational Choice Theory is one of the few general theories of how individuals, groups, organizations and social structures behave - its impact on sociological theorizing has been enormous. In this volume, advocates and critics present their views of the values and limitations of rational choice theory. Whether supporter or sceptic, sociologists and other social scientists will find themselves immersed in a creative discussion of the merits and difficulties of the model and its applicability to both macro and micro level social issues.
This volume contains recent and cutting-edge articles from leading criminological theorists. The book is organized into ten sections, each representing the latest in the multi-disciplinary orientations representing a cross-section of contemporary criminological theory. These sections include: 1: Classical and Rational Choice; 2: Biological and Biosocial; 3: Psychological; 4: Social Learning and Neutralization; 5: Social Control; 6: Social Ecology, Sub-cultural and Cultural; 7: Anomie and Strain; 8: Conflict and Radical; 9: Feminist and Gender; 10: Critical Criminologies: Anarchist, Postmodernist, Peacemaking. The articles were selected based on their contributions to advancing the field, including ways in which the authors of each chapter understand the current theoretical tendencies of their respective approaches and how they envision the future of their theories. Because of this, the articles focus on theory rather than empirical research. Of particular note is the tendency toward integration of different perspectives, as described by editors, Henry and Lukas, in their original introduction to this volume.
Sophie Hahn analyses downward mobility in educational attainment from a sociological life-course perspective. In order to avoid status loss children of higher-educated parents have to persevere through long educational careers. How large is their risk of intergenerational downward mobility in educational attainment and how does it shape their educational pathways? Does their parents’ education still play a role in decisions at late stages of the educational career such as dropping out of and re-entering higher education? Drawing on retrospective longitudinal data of the German National Education Panel Study (NEPS) this book addresses these questions.
The return of emotions to debates about crime and criminal justice has been a striking development of recent decades across many jurisdictions. This has been registered in the return of shame to justice procedures, a heightened focus on victims and their emotional needs, fear of crime as a major preoccupation of citizens and politicians, and highly emotionalised public discourses on crime and justice. But how can we best make sense of these developments? Do we need to create "emotionally intelligent" justice systems, or are we messing recklessly with the rational foundations of liberal criminal justice? This volume brings together leading criminologists and sociologists from across the world in a much needed conversation about how to re-calibrate reason and emotion in crime and justice today. The contributions range from the micro-analysis of emotions in violent encounters to the paradoxes and tensions that arise from the emotionalisation of criminal justice in the public sphere. They explore the emotional labour of workers in police and penal institutions, the justice experiences of victims and offenders, and the role of vengeance, forgiveness and regret in the aftermath of violence and conflict resolution. The result is a set of original essays which offer a fresh and timely perspective on problems of crime and justice in contemporary liberal democracies.
Rational Choice Theory is flourishing in sociology and is increasingly influential in other disciplines. Contributors to this volume are convinced that it provides an inadequate conceptualization of all aspects of decision making: of the individuals who make the decisions, of the process by which decisions get made and of the context within which decisions get made. The ciritique focuses on the four assumptions which are the bedrock of rational choice: rationality: the theory's definition of rationality is incomplete, and cannot satisfactorily incorporate norms and emotions individualism: rational choice is based upon atomistic, individual decision makers and cannot account for decisions made by ;couples', 'groups' or other forms of collective action process: the assumption of fixed, well-ordered preferences and 'perfect information' makes the theory inadequate for situations of change and uncertainty aggregation: as methodological individualists, rational choice theorists can only view structure and culture as aggregates and cannot incorporate structural or cultural influences as emergent properties which have an effect upon decision making. The critique is grounded in discussion of a wide range of social issues, including race, marriage, health and education.
In recent decades, rational choice theory has emerged as the single most powerful, controversial claimant to provide a unified, theoretical framework for all the social sciences. In its simplest form, the theory postulates that humans are purposive beings who pursue their goals in a rational, efficient manner, seeking the greatest benefit at the lowest cost. This volume brings together prominent scholars working in several social science disciplines and the philosophy of science to debate the promise and problems of rational choice theory. As rational choice theory has spread from its home base in economics to other disciplines, it has come under fierce criticism. To its critics, the extension of the explanatory model mistakenly assumes that the logic of economic rationality can explain non-economic behavior and, at its worst, commits the ethnocentric error of imposing Western concepts of rationality on non-Western societies and cultures. This volume includes strong advocates as well as forceful critics of the rational choice approach. However, in contrast to previous debates, all the contributors share a commitment to open, constructive and knowledgeable dialogue. Well-known advocates of rational choice theory (Michael Hechter, Michael Smith, Chris Manfredi) explicitly ponder some of its serious limitations, while equally well-known critics (Ian Shapiro, Mario Bunge) strike a surprisingly conciliatory tone in contemplating its legitimate uses. Vociferous critics of neoclassical economics (Bunge) favorably discuss sociological proponents of rational choice theory while two economists who are not particularly anti-mainstream (Robin Rowley, George Grantham) critically assess the problems of such assumptions in their discipline. Philosophers (Storrs McCall) and sociologists (John Hall) alike reflect on the variable meaning of rationality in explaining social behavior. In the introduction and conclusion, the editors survey the current state of the debate and show how open, constructive dialogue enables us to move beyond hackneyed accusations and dismissals that have characterized much previous debate.

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