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date: 06 December 2021

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.

Keywords: analytical sociology, preferences, mental events, behavioral tendencies, action, personality, organizations

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