Rational Choice Theory (RCT) claims to be able to explain not just how some individuals make choices, but how all individuals make choices. It also claims to explain how all individuals make not just some of their choices, but all of their choices. According to the theory, there is no difference in principle between choosing whether to buy apples rather than bananas, or choosing whether to join a political revolution instead of staying at home and watching television. Given these claims to universal applicability, it is perhaps not surprising that over the last three or four decades rational choice theory (RCT) has become increasingly influential as a means of providing explanations in politics. The textbook introduces the premises of Rational Choice Theory and illustrates how this theory can be applied to politics studies. The book concludes with an assessment of the usefulness of the model in the light of the problems highlighted.
Dr Stephen Parsons teaches political theory in the Department of Historical and International Studies at the University of De Montfort.