The Explanatory Approach to Social Science. a Common Perspective

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 27 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Andreas DIEKMANN, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Rational Choice Theory (RCT), Analytical Sociology (AS), most theories and models in Mathematical Sociology (MS) and Computational Social Science (CSS) have the following three common features: 

(1) Explanations are based on assumptions of individual behavior, interactions and social context (Gintis' BPC or Hedström's DBO plus assumptions on social interaction/context)  

(2) Researchers use precise models from network analysis, decision and game theory, agent based simulation models and others (mainly to aggregate micro interactions to macro outcomes). 

(3) Assumptions and implications of models and theory are, in principle, testable by empirical methods (often sophisticated statistical models of causal analysis for non-experimental data). 

In my presentation, I will outline a unifying framework. Based on this framework I distinguish sub-groups of theoretical approaches such as RCT, bounded rationality, and evolutionary approaches. There is no approach that is superior in all situations. Instead, there is a rich toolbox with a great variety of instruments to construct competing middle range theories.