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Applications of rational choice theory in the sociological literature on ‘race’ and ethnicity are relatively scarce, and have tended to be implicit rather than explicit. They have been confined largely to the work of ethnographers and social anthropologists, and have been showcased in edited volumes such as Watson (1977) and Wallman (1979). In a more theoretical vein, there are the significant contributions of Banton (1983) and Hechter (1986). Over the past decade, the approach has to all intents and purposes disappeared, in terms of macro-sociological work at least, although vestiges of it remain in particular substantive areas, as we shall see. Even its strongest adherents, such as Hechter (1986: 265), have expressed some serious misgivings about its usefulness.

Original publication





Book title

Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonisation

Publication Date



200 - 216