- The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- About the Contributors
- What is Analytical Sociology All About? An Introductory Essay
- Analytical Sociology and Theories of the Middle Range
- Social Dynamics from the Bottom Up: Agent-Based Models of Social Interaction
- Segregation Dynamics
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
- Social Influence: The Puzzling Nature of Success in Cultural Markets
- The Contagiousness of Divorce
- Collective Action
- Conditional Choice
- Network Dynamics
- Threshold Models of Social Influence
- Time and Scheduling
- Homophily and the Focused Organization of Ties
- Dominance Hierarchies
- Game Theory
- Analytic Ethnography
- Historical Sociology
- Name Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
This article examines four basic issues regarding ‘preferences’ as an explanatory concept in analytical sociology. First, it explains how the ontology of preference should be understood; that is, the question of what preferences are. It challenges both the ideas that preferences are ‘mental events’ and that they are ‘behavioral tendencies.’ Second, given that real-world alternatives may be characterized by numerous different attributes, the article considers the question of which attributes may be most salient to understanding action. It also explores the link between personality and preferences and how organizations act according to preferences. Finally, it describes how preferences change over time, paying attention to the preferences of actors being a target of purposive action by others and by actors themselves.
Jeremy Freese is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. He previously taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University. He attained his Ph.D. in sociology from Indiana University. Freese is interested in drawing connections across biological, psychological, and social causes of divergence in individuals’ lives, especially as these intersect with technological and other kinds of social change. Additionally, he has worked on social-science methods, including co-authoring a book on the analyses of categorical data.
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