Game theory and microsociology: avenues of collaboration

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Charles Kirschbaum
Tatiana Iwai


The Game Theory approach has been fruitful in analyzing strategic contexts, while its assumptions have attracted important criticism from the sociological field. Specifically, the sociological criticism portrays GT as failing to explain trust among individuals. In addition, social dilemmas seem to obscure the explanation of how cooperation is possible. Taking this comparison to its extreme, one is led to believe that the sociological thinking sharply opposes GT. In contrast, this article explores the possible avenues of collaboration between GT and microsociology. We recover in this article the sociological approaches that recognize the social embeddedness of rational choice, mainly by the use of communication and language. We argue that the construction of economic experiments involving social dilemmas, and punctuated with dialogue, generate rich material for qualitative analysis. We propose that this qualitative material be interpreted under frame analysis (Goffman), conventions (Boltanski & Thevenot) and non-human interactions (Latour).


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Kirschbaum, C., & Iwai, T. (1). Game theory and microsociology: avenues of collaboration. Journal of Contemporary Administration, 15(1), 138-157.