The rational means-end schema as a tool for empirical analysis of social action
The paper starts with an argument for the necessity of a clear definition of rationality. Concepts are defined by content (their meaning) and by area (the corresponding objects). As concepts are understood as tools, they need to be defined according to their purpose. In economics and sociology, rationality serves for the analysis of action choices guided by reasoning. This implies conscious reflections. For an adequate judgment, the observer and the actor need to have the same knowledge. A further criterion is the possibility of verification, which means that the ends of rational action must be real, not transcendent.The elaboration of these arguments in further considerations is closely oriented towards Parsons " action frame of reference. The basic structural components of the unit act are actors, ends, means, and conditions. The non-rational factors like tradition, ideologies, etc. enter the scheme as conditions. This theoretical frame is applied to the analysis of a capitalistic enterprise with individual actors and a capitalistic industry with collective actors. The examples illustrate that restriction to the rational means-end schema is not sufficient and therefore an account of norms, values, and institutional and ideological conditions is indispensable for the analysis of rational action. (Eds.)
Schickele, R. , Staubmann, H. , Lidz, V. (2018)., The rational means-end schema as a tool for empirical analysis of social action, in H. Staubmann & V. Lidz (eds.), Rationality in the social sciences, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 69-84.
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