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Rational Choice and Political Power$
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Keith Dowding

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781529206333

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529206333.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Rational Choice and a Theory of Action

Rational Choice and a Theory of Action

(p.19) 2 Rational Choice and a Theory of Action
Rational Choice and Political Power

Keith Dowding

Policy Press

The chapter provides a simple introduction to rational choice theory as a method of analysis. It argues that the rationality assumptions provide consistency for agents, and then armed with that consistency the structural situations in which agents find themselves provides the explanation of their actions. Rational choice is thus a structural form of explanation. Many approaches to power are behaviorialist but behaviorialism is the comparison of human behaviour in different institutional or structural circumstances. It explains behaviorialism through a simple theory of action which proves important in the later analysis of why the collective action can answer many questions posed by power analysts. It examines the idea of non-decisions and explains how these arise in collective action through a simple Prisoners’ Dilemma game.

Keywords:   rational choice theory, preferences, structural explanation, behaviorialism, theory of action

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