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Preferences or Want-lists: an organic view of want formation
University of Borås, School of Education and Behavioural Science.
University of Borås, School of Education and Behavioural Science.
2009 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The premise of scarcity is central in economics, sociology and politics: we find it, for example, in Hobbes problem of order, Durkheim’s problem of solidarity, or in Menger’s economic problem. However, there could not be any scarcity without there being no wantingness (Robbins 1932/1945). Therefore, it is essential to study the underlying mechanisms of human wants. The purpose of this paper is thus to develop an explanatory approach of wants. We do this in relation to the concept of preferences of rational choice theory (Becker 1996). By using a favorite case of this theory, namely choices in meritocratic education (Coleman, and Goldthorpe), we manage to show that the assumption of stable preferences is unrealistic. The want-lists of different student’s (n=27) demonstrate this. These lists contain, from the perspective of rational choice, high level of inconsistency (Elster 1990): that is, they violate the principle of transitivity (leads to irrationality) and manifests indifference which is derived from the principle of completeness (leads to indeterminacy). We argue that this inconsistency arise because of radical uncertainty (Beckert 2002), denominated as epistemological opaqueness. From this we propose an alternative approach to want formation anchored in the concept of the habitus (Bourdieu 1986) and reflexivity (Archer 2003). The habitus establish the set of wants (merely the bundle of wants), whereas reflexivity condition the want-list (the interconnectedness of wants). This approach does both ease the problem of epistemic opaqueness and maintains that wants form an organic totality. Consequently, choice as well as scarcity on an individual level depends on the habitus and the reflexive capability of an individual, which ultimately hinges on an agent’s ability to deal with micropolitical affairs. Keywords: preference, wants, rational choice theory, habitus, reflexivity

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
Keyword [en]
preference, wants, habitus, rational choice theory, reflexivity, Sociologi
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-6303Local ID: 2320/5907OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-6303DiVA: diva2:886990
Conference
Sociologförbundets årsmöte, 5-6 mars, 2009. Campus Engelska Parken Uppsala, Sverige.
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf