Rational Choice Theory and Marxism

Topics: Sociology, Rational choice theory, Economics Pages: 1 (391 words) Published: June 20, 2013
There are many ideas on how social order works and what must be done for social order to be achieved. I would like to examine two popular conflict theories rational choice and Marxism. Rational choice theory is based upon utilitarianism where individuals try to maximize utility or benefits and minimize costs. In other words individuals choose their actions based upon how much it benefits them. According to Hobbes this self-interest leads to competitiveness amongst humans which needs to be governed. According to this theory must create laws and rules to be obeyed to maintain social order as individuals are at the center of all the power. However rational choice goes on to state that the natural human selfishness and competiveness is actually what is best for society economically and socially, i.e. the invisible hand and through the creation of specialization. A popular criticism for rational choice theory is that assumes rational thought for actions and neglects the existence for any other kinds of action. Furthermore rational choice theory assumes any phenomena in society can be explained by and is the cause of individual action instead of social structures.

While rationalist believe that individuals hold the power in society, Marxists believe that society is a complex system where individuals work together to work toward a common goal. Conflict comes in the form of social hierarchy where few hold the wealth and power in society (capitalist) but the working class demand equal amounts of power. In other words classes of people in the social hierarchy, not individuals, are the decision makers and power holders of a society. Marx believed that social order in every society is achieved through the production of economic goods. Those with the greatest production capabilities are the one who also dominant the market which causes a power struggle for social and economic resources.  To overcome this struggle upper class and working class would have to work together...
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