1997 - Volume 38 > Numéro 3

ISSN 0035-2969

Temporality and interindividual differences : analysis of action in sociology and economics
Pierre-Michel MENGER

pp. 587-633


Sociology and economics are both confronted with persistant tension when analysing action : how can differences in behaviour and modifications in behaviour caused by interaction between agents be accounted for simultaneously ? Is it possible to specify as precisely as possible, using an identical system of axioms, concepts and observations, the identity of social actors and the identity of the situations of interaction ? The replies seem extremely divergent : in reply to the rational actor and maximizer operating in a perfectly known environment, such as that postulated by the economists, the sociologists put forward a plurality of theoretical constructions, placing the actors in spaces where rationalities of action are multiple, conflictual and awkwardly coordinated, even mystifying due to their illusiveness. The opposition between sociology and economics may be recalculated and space for overstepping allowed in cases where these questions deal with the treatment of the temporality of action and the differences between actors. Examining several families of theories shows that the replies are situated between determinism and non-determinism which is common to both sciences. In addition, converging advances make it possible to understand the dynamics of the action and the interactions in a different way than by combining the differences initially parameterized between actors.



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