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Rational choice theory and quantitative analysis - A comment on Goldthorpe's sociological alliance

  • Christofer Edling
Publishing year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 1-8
Publication/Series: European Sociological Review
Volume: 16
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Additional info: 1

Abstract english

There is a growing interest in empirical applications of rational choice theory in contemporary European Sociology. One major proponent for an explicit link between rational choice theory and large scale data analysis is John Goldthorpe. This is a critical comment on Goldthorpe's (1996a) programmatic article in the European Sociological Review, "The Quantitative Analysis of Large-Scale Data-Sets and Rational Action Theory: For a Sociological Alliance". It is argued that the link is treated in an unproblematic and oversimplified way in that article. His claim that quantitative data analysis need rational choice theory is an overstatement, rather, it is argued, rational choice theory might sometimes be used in explanations of statistical regularities. The claim that rational choice theory needs quantitative data is rejected for being based on a dubious understanding of rational choice theory.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • sociologi
  • sociology


  • ISSN: 0266-7215
Christofer Edling
E-mail: christofer [dot] edling [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se


Faculty of Social Sciences

+46 46 222 88 62



Centre for Economic Demography




+46 46 222 88 62




I earned my PhD from Stockholm University in 1999. Between 2002 and 2005 I was Torgny Segerstedt Pro Futura Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study at Uppsala University. I received my Docent-title in 2003, and was appointed Associate Professor at Stockholm University in 2004. From 2006 to 2008 I was Head of the Department of Sociology at Stockholm university. Before coming to Lund in 2012 I served as Full Professor of Sociology at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany. I have been a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004/05) and Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2013).

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences