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IPE Session 8 Rational Choice etc

IPE Session 8 Rational Choice etc - Session81 OTHER...

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Session 8      1 OTHER PERSPECTIVES OF IPE (C HAPTER 5) (Rational Choice Analysis, Constructivism, Feminism, Hegemonic Stability) RATIONAL CHOICE APPROACH IN IPE Rational choice theory, also known as rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modelling social and economic behaviour . It is the dominant theoretical paradigm in microeconomics. It is also central to modern political science and is used by scholars in other disciplines such as sociology and philosophy. It has had far-reaching impacts on the study of political science, especially in fields like the study of interest groups, elections, behaviour in legislatures, coalitions, and bureaucracy. In Rational Choice Theory “rationality” simply means that a person reasons before taking an action. A person balances costs against benefits before taking any action . Models that rely on rational choice theory often adopt methodological individualism , the assumption that social situations or collective behaviours are the result of individual actions For example, in the study of international politics realists use rational choice theory to explain why during the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union engaged in an arms race and threatened to destroy one another. In this case each state was seen as a rational actor to the extent that it calculated the costs and benefits of matching the others weapons or anticipating the choices the other actor would make based on a rational calculation of their costs and benefits. Assumptions Rational choice theory makes two assumptions about individuals' preferences for actions: 1. Completeness : All actions can be ranked in an order of preference (indifference between two or more is possible). 2. Transitivity : If action a 1 is preferred to a 2 , and action a 2 is preferred to a 3 , then a 1 is preferred to a 3 . Together these assumptions form the result that given a set of exhaustive and exclusive actions to choose from, an individual can rank them in terms of his preferences, and that his preferences are consistent. Strict preference occurs when an individual prefers a 1 to a 2 , but not a 2 to a 1 i.e.   a 1 < a 2 Weak preference can be held in which an individual has a preference for at least a j , i.e. a 1 a 2 . Indifference occurs when an individual does not prefer a 1 to a 2 , or a 2 to a 1 , or that they are equally preferred.
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Session 8      2 To simplify calculation and facilitate testing, some possibly unrealistic assumptions are made about the world. These include: An individual has full or perfect information about exactly what will occur under any choice made. More complex models rely on probability to describe outcomes. An individual has the cognitive ability and time to weigh every choice against every other choice i.e. unbounded rationality .
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