Rational choice theory and structural functionalism

Although Bernheim did not explicitly talk about virtue, the article shows that his Lehrbuch nonetheless considers self-distanciation a matter of virtuous behavior, targeted at an aim that may not be fully realizable, but ought to be pursued with all possible vigor. Focusing on some of its most important spokespeople, the paper shows that they start from the historicist presupposition that distance can in principle be overcome by a reconstruction of the original intentions of the framers of the Constitution. With the help of Hans-Georg Gadamer, who explicitly based his philosophical hermeneutics on the notion of distance, this presupposition will be criticized.

Rational choice theory and structural functionalism

Within this framework, social behavior is viewed primarily in terms of the pursuit of rewards and the avoidance of punishment and other forms of cost.

Individuals engage in interaction to meet their needs. The basic unit of analysis is the relationship between actors. Thus, exchange theorists view social relations and the social structures generated by the ties that bind people in different forms of association as the central object of sociological inquiry.

Major topics of study within this tradition of research include the nature and effects of the interconnections among actors and the distribution of power within exchange structures.

Power and status relations among actors in different types of social structures are considered key forces in determining the nature of structural change over time. The major exchange theorists all have treated power, structural sources of power, and the dynamics of power use as primary in their theoretical formulations.

Social exchange theory derives from several distinct lines of theoretical work in the social sciences, including social behaviorism, utilitarianism, and functionalism Turner Major proponents of the social exchange perspective within sociology include Homans, Blau, and Emersona, b.

Within psychology, the work of Thibaut and Kelley ; Kelley and Thibaut bears a strong resemblance to social exchange theory in its emphasis on the interdependence of actors and the social implications of different forms of interdependence.

Anthropologists such as MalinowskiMaussSchneiderand Levi-Strausshave contributed in different ways to the emergence of this theoretical perspective see Ekeh In addition, the foundation of microeconomics has much in common with some variants of social exchange theory Heath The breadth of the intellectual heritage of social exchange theory accounts in part for its continued significance in the social sciences.

Its Elementary Forms revised in The use of operant psychology as the behavioral basis of exchange theory created much of the early controversy surrounding the utility of this perspective for sociologists.

However, Homans explicitly took as the major theoretical task the explanation of social phenomena. This emphasis on social behavior and the social structures generated and altered by human social interaction has sustained the influence of social exchange theory in sociology.

In this regard, Homans viewed the line drawn between psychology and sociology as fundamentally arbitrary. The initial theoretical formulation developed by Homans and revised in included five main propositions, all of which have to do with the fact that behavior is a function of its payoffs: Behavior that generates positive consequences for the individual is likely to be repeated.

According to this proposition, the more often a person has recently received a particular reward for an action, the less valuable is an additional unit of that reward. Thus, some rewards become less effective over time in eliciting specific actions, though this is less true for generalized rewards such as money and affection and for anything for which satiation is less likely to occur except at extreme levels.

This proposition has two parts. People who receive more than they expect or do not receive anticipated punishments will be happy and will behave approvingly. This system of propositions forms the original core set of ideas of what has come to be called social exchange theory. He addressed these social phenomena primarily in terms of the nature of the interpersonal relations involved.

By studying such forms of behavior, he hoped to illuminate the elementary, informal subinstitutional bases of more complex forms of social behavior that often are more formal and institutionalized. What he bequeathed to modern-day sociology, besides his particular form of theorizing, was an emphasis on the microfoundations of social structures and social change.

Whereas Homans focused on elementary forms of behavior and the subinstitutional level of analysis, Blaumoved beyond the micro level to the institutional level, dealing with authority and power, conflict, and change in the context of institutionalized systems of exchange.

Thus, Blau parted company from Homans in two major ways. Second, he explicitly introduced the notion of emergent processes into his theoretical treatise, not only rejecting reductionism but also expanding the theory to extend far beyond its original subinstitutional base.

Blau developed a general framework for analyzing macro structures and processes based on an extension of his micro-level theory of social exchange processes. Group formation, cohesion, and social integration as well as processes of opposition, conflict, and dissolution are explained in terms of social exchange processes.

These forms of social association generated by exchange processes come to constitute very complex social structures and substructures over time. These more complex social structures are then examined by Blau as they are created and changed by power processes and the dynamics of legitimation and political opposition.

Common values mediate and make possible indirect exchanges and thus the coordination of action in large collectivities. The major social forces he analyzes include differentiation, integration, organization, and opposition that sets up the dialectic necessary for the explanation of structural change.

Rational choice theory and structural functionalism

Ironically, Blau himself challenged the utility of his approach in his subsequent writings Blaufueling the debate further. This theoretical debate will not be over soon since it lies at the heart of the nature of sociological analysis and relates to broad issues of the primacy of particular units and levels of analysis as well as to complex metatheoretical and methodological issues.

Blau and subsequently Emerson, b made power the central focus of analysis. Blau treated power, authority, opposition, and legitimation as key topics in his discussion of macro structures and the dynamics of structural change.International relations theory is the study of international relations (IR) from a theoretical perspective.

It attempts to provide a conceptual framework upon which international relations can be analyzed. Ole Holsti describes international relations theories as acting like pairs of coloured sunglasses that allow the wearer to see only salient events relevant to the theory; e.g., an adherent.

Rational choice theory and structural functionalism

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Social Control Theory - Criminology - Oxford Bibliographies

This new edition introduces the social science audiences of a new century to one of the classic highlights of the mid-twentieth century.

Understanding Depression: Family Systems Theory - Depression is classified as a mood disorder by the DSM-IV () and is defined as a mental illness characterized by sadness, general apathy, a loss of self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and, at times, suicidal tendencies (Lexicon, n.d).

Introduction. Unlike most criminology theories that purport to explain why people offend, control theory offers the justification for why people obey rules. The International Relations Theory Web Site. Please contribute to our project! We seek your assistance in helping to create a descriptive list (see below) of existing IR paradigms, approaches and webkandii.com you know of a particular IR theory, for example, that is not listed and described below, please e-mail the name of the theory and a brief description of it to Mark Beavis at irtheory.

Neorealism or structural realism is a development of realism advanced by Kenneth Waltz in Theory of International webkandii.com is, however, only one strand of neorealism.

Joseph Grieco has combined neo-realist thinking with more traditional realists. This strand of theory is sometimes called "modern realism". Waltz's neorealism contends that the .