chapter  2
RATIONAL-CHOICE THEORIES
Pages 14

While interpretative sociologies have reacted to the holistic orientation of functionalism by emphasizing the complex ways in which actors, via the application of various social skills, achieve day-to-day interaction, rationalchoice (or game-theoretic) approaches, in an equally anti-functionalist mood, try to show that at the basis of all social phenomena are real, purposive actors pursuing their interests in more or less rational manner. Both orientations being hostile to systemic/‘externalist’ concepts, they try to combat reification by resorting to more or less crude or sophisticated versions of methodological individualism. They both insist that the focus of social analysis should properly be on agents and their strategies, rather than on systemic wholes and their alleged functional needs or requirements. The basic difference between the two sides lies in the way in which they study agents and their interactions. Unlike interpretative sociologists, rational-choice theorists tend to adopt a logicodeductive, ‘armchair’ orientation in their attempts to explain social phenomena and to establish linkages between micro and macro levels of analysis.