2010 - Volume 51 > Numéro 4

ISSN 0035-2969

Acting in a situation :
disposition and framing effects
Jean-Hugues DÉCHAUX

pp. 721-747


The article critically examines of the notion of « good reasons » used in Boudon’s « modèle de la rationalité générale » (MRG ; general rationality model), focusing in particular on the issue of actors’ cognitive autonomy. What is meant by the terms « action situation » and « the cross-subjectivity of reasons » ? The understanding advocated here is that MRG attributes an excessively high level of cognitive autonomy to actors because it insufficiently analyzes what enters into an action situation by means of ordinary knowledge and ensures the cross-subjective nature of certain reasons. The article pleads for more fully taking into account the cognitive frame of reference. This in turn requires acknowledging that 1) the individual is not entirely experience-free when called upon to handle a situation ; he or she has some cognitive capital, from which certain « disposition effects » arise, and 2) « collective objects » pre-exist actors and guide them in their reasoning – what may be called a « framing effect ». The argument is demonstrated by means of several examples, some drawn from Boudon’s own texts. It concludes that sociological reasoning must acknowledge the individual/structure duality. This position being one of « decreasing abstraction » leads to correcting the individualist axiom of Weber’s theory of action – but not discarding it – by taking into account collective components, institutions and/or structures, since those components, in the form of tacit rules and ordinary knowledge, constitute resources for action.



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