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Why Sociology is Better Conditioned to Explain Economic Behaviour than Economics

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  • Henk Folmer

Abstract

This note analyzes the impacts of the fragmentation of economics into different schools of thought and of social science into the sub-disciplines economics, sociology and psychology. Fragmentation is based on the assumption that it is possible to split the set of an individual's behavioural motives into separable and disjoint subsets. However, this assumption runs counter to the insights in psychology. Moreover, even if splitting up were possible, the different subsets of motives finally need to be checked on consistency and weighted so as to obtain a comprehensive description and explanation. Another serious drawback is that specification of empirical models on the basis of one school of thought or one sub-discipline leads to omitted variables bias and hence biased estimators and tests. Finally, fragmentation may lead to a 'pick-and-mix package', whereby policy-makers and politicians feel free to use what suits them. The social rationality model together with the methodological approach prevalent in modern sociology is presented as a framework for integrating the schools of thought in economics and the social science sub-disciplines. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Henk Folmer, 2009. "Why Sociology is Better Conditioned to Explain Economic Behaviour than Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 258-274, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:62:y:2009:i:2:p:258-274
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Leonardo Becchetti & Alessandra Pelloni & Fiammetta Rossetti, 2008. "Relational Goods, Sociability, and Happiness," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 343-363, August.
    2. Fabio Sabatini, 2008. "Social Capital and the Quality of Economic Development," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 466-499, August.
    3. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1972. "Structural Equation Methods in the Social Sciences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 40(6), pages 979-1001, November.
    4. Bruno Frey & Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Introducing Procedural Utility: Not Only What, but Also How Matters," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(3), pages 377-377, September.
    5. Archibald, G. C. & Donaldson, David, 1979. "Notes on economic equality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 205-214, October.
    6. Menno Rol, 2008. "Idealization, abstraction, and the policy relevance of economic theories," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 69-97.
    7. Siegwart Lindenberg, 2001. "Social Rationality as a Unified Model of Man (Including Bounded Rationality)," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 5(3), pages 239-251, September.
    8. Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology for Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1449-1475, December.
    9. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
    10. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    11. Lindenberg, Siegwart, 2001. "Intrinsic Motivation in a New Light," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 317-342.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    2. Li, Zhengtao & Folmer, Henk & Xue, Jianhong, 2014. "To what extent does air pollution affect happiness? The case of the Jinchuan mining area, China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 88-99.
    3. Tang, Jianjun & Folmer, Henk & Xue, Jianhong, 2015. "Technical and allocative efficiency of irrigation water use in the Guanzhong Plain, China," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 43-52.
    4. Danny Czamanski & Henk Folmer, 2011. "Introduction: some new methods in regional science," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 47(3), pages 493-497, December.

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