chapter  2
24 Pages

Political Protest and Rational Choice Theory

ByKarl-Dieter Opp, Peter Hartmann, Petra Hartmann

The utility maximization hypothesis states how the individual actor behaves in view of his preferences and constraints and opportunities. The maximization hypothesis imply that the actor ehooses the behavioral alternative which is objectively the best from the viewpoint of an omniscient observer. The model always takes the perspective of the individual actor. Proponents of the general model in economics, political science, and sociology are not interested in explaining the behavior of a single individual. The model is applied to aggregates of individuals. The widespread criticism of the model primarily results from the fact that the hypotheses are supplemented with additional assumptions which in fact are not implied by the model in its general form. The openness of the model to all kinds of preferences and constraints is considered problematic by some writers: it is argued that explanations become ad hoc, that the model loses its predictive power and becomes a tautology.