Rational Choice Theory

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Rational Choice Theory, in layman terms sees people as maximizers of self-interest who engage in a cost-benefit calculation to achieve a better outcome over a worse one (Lim, 78). The self-interest of an individual is subject to change, based on the surrounding conditions. This is further explained by the assumption that rationality can be institutionally, culturally or socially defined (Lim, 82). Hence, it can be said that rational choice theory takes into account the effect of the environment on the decision making capability of an individual. This is also referred to as the ‘’thick variant’’ of rationality and using this variant enables this theory to be applied on both micro and meso-levels. The application of rational choice theory in…show more content…
Critics argue that if a voter thinks rationally, judging on the probability that his vote will make any difference; he should abstain from voting at all. Critics debate that most people vote because they think that it is their moral obligation to do so to uphold the true values of democracy. Hence, in contrast to the rational choice theory, the voter doesn’t engage in maximizing his interest or engaging in a cost benefit analysis. He rather votes merely out of a moral obligation. This puts a big question mark of efficiency of rational choice theory in analyzing political…show more content…
Advantages of using rational choice theory were outlined which showed how its application has contributed to increase our knowledge base and refine our understanding of political systems. The concept of how rational choice theory enables us to compare different political systems was also explored. Like every other theory, rational choice theory also enjoys its fair share of criticism. This paper tried to refute these criticisms. It will be wrong to say that rational choice theory is a utopian concept. It has its strengths and weaknesses. However, with certain modifications in some areas of the theory, the negative consequences of these weakness can be abated. Rational choice theory has expanded the horizons of our understanding of political systems by a large extent in just a few decades. It is a relatively new theory yet it has contributed a lot in the scholarly and literary circles. With the passage of time, it promises to improve and contribute even greatly to aid our analysis of political
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