The rational choice generalization of neoclassical economics reconsidered: Any theoretical legitimation for economic imperialism?

Sociological Theory 18 (3):448-471 (2000)
Abstract
The article reconsiders the generalization of neoclassical economics by modern rational choice theory. Hence, it reexamines the possible theoretical grounds or lack thereof within neoclassical economics for economic imperialism implied in much of rational choice theory. Some indicative instances of rational choice theory's generalization of neoclassical economics are reviewed. The main portion of the article addresses the question as to whether neoclassical economics allows its generalization in rational choice theory and thus legitimizes economic imperialism. Presented are a number of pertinent theoretical reasons why neoclassical economics does not fully justify its generalization into rational choice as a general social theory, particularly into an overarching economic approach to social action and society. Also discussed are some theoretical implications of the rational choice generalization of neoclassical economics. The main contribution of the article is to detect lack of a strong theoretical rationale in much of neoclassical economics for rational choice theory's manifest or latent economic imperialism
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