9780226104393

Rational Lives: Norms and Values in Politics and Society

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780226104393

  • ISBN10:

    0226104397

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-05-01
  • Publisher: UNIV OF CHICAGO PRESS
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Summary

Those who study value conflicts have resisted rational choice approaches in the social sciences, contending that political conflict over cultural values is best explained by group loyalties, symbolic motives, and other "nonrational" factors. However, Chong shows that a single model can explain how people make decisions across both social and economic realms. He argues that our preferences result from a combination of psychological dispositions, which are shaped by social influences and developed over the life span. Chong's book yields insights about the circumstances under which preferences, beliefs, values, norms and group identifications are formed. It offers a provocative explanation of how ingrained social norms and values can change over time despite the forces maintaining the status quo. "Going beyond the tired polemics on both sides, [Chong] constructs a new interpretation of human behavior in which culture and individual rationality both matter. The synthesis is a more comprehensive and powerful explanatory framework than either side could have produced, and Chong's creativity should influence subsequent interpretations of our social life in fundamental ways."--Christopher H. Achen, University of Michigan

Author Biography

Dennis Chong is professor of political science at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
ix
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction 1(10)
Interests versus Values
11(34)
Rational Choice
12(8)
Status Politics
20(4)
Symbolic Politics
24(2)
Does Rational Choice Theory Survive the Challenges Posed by the Symbolic Politics Research?
26(16)
Taking Stock of Expressive and Instrumental Theories
42(3)
A Model of Individual Choice
45(31)
Dispositions and Incentives
47(1)
Reference Groups and Conformity
47(4)
Group Dynamics
51(2)
A Model of Individual Choice
53(1)
Incentives: The Meaning of π
54(2)
Reinforcing Only L
56(1)
Reinforcing Only R
56(1)
Dispositions: The Meaning of a and b
57(2)
Exposure to Both L and R
59(3)
Deductions: The Interplay between Incentives and Dispositions
62(12)
Conclusion
74(2)
Coordination and Conflict
76(40)
Four Mechanisms of Defense
76(3)
Coordination Problems
79(8)
Ethnocentrism
87(11)
Vested Interests
98(8)
Majorities and Minorities
106(7)
Conclusion
113(3)
Cultural Mobilization
116(37)
Creating Common Frames of Reference
119(3)
Deductions
122(4)
General Strategies
126(4)
The Element of Surprise
130(4)
Convergence on a Focal Point
134(7)
Arguing with Principles
141(9)
Conclusion
150(3)
Economics Meets Morality in a Texas Community
153(33)
Background
154(4)
Setting the Agenda
158(2)
Framing Strategies following the First Vote
160(5)
Competing Worldviews
165(4)
The Role of Social and Moral Beliefs in Solving Coordination Problems
169(2)
Morality, Trust, and Social Order
171(2)
Political Repercussions of Cultural Diversity
173(3)
Evaluating Information and Reasoning about Means and Ends
176(4)
Are the Citizens of Williamson County Acting in Their Self-Interest?
180(4)
Conclusion
184(2)
Mass Adjustment to New Norms
186(26)
Incentives and Dispositions (Reprised)
188(2)
Social Adjustment to New Norms and Practices
190(3)
A Model of Social Adjustment
193(10)
Mechanisms of Social Change
203(3)
How the South Was Won
206(4)
Conclusion
210(2)
Culture and Strategy
212(21)
A Unifying Theory
213(1)
Value Formation
214(4)
Social Change
218(3)
The Limits of Rationality
221(1)
Expressive and Moral Action
222(6)
A Final Word
228(5)
Notes 233(32)
Biblography 265(18)
Index 283

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