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Muddling Through Projects of Action – Elements of a Sociology of Decision Making

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  • Mo 10:15-11:45

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In the framework of the theory of action, decision making or choices determine „future conduct after having considered several possible ways of action" (Schütz, 1962, p. 67). Starting from Schütz important analysis of social action and its relationship to processes of will formation and decision making, we will analyse and discuss some approaches to the field of (rational) decision making that emerged since the first half of the 20th century. For one, Herbert Simon found that rational decision making is always restricted (bounded) by our knowledge of the situation, the evaluation of future affairs and the human capacity of information processing. As one consequence of decision making in differentiated and pluralized (complex) society and under conditions of unintended and unanticipated consequences of purposeful social action, sociologists and political scientists found that bold projects of action must be translated into little, reversable steps. This approach has been conceptualized as incrementalism or "muddling through.” Being in a situation of "still muddling, not yet through” (Lindblom, 1979), we will discuss these shallows of decision making (and goal setting) in different cultural settings and in a highly mediatized contemporary situation in which algorithms and information infrastructures pervade all sectors of the social and cultural realm.

Empfohlene Literatur

Schütz, Alfred. 1951. Choosing Among Projects of Action. In: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 12(2), pp. 161–184. Simon, Herbert. 1958[1945]. Administrative Behavior. A Study of Decision-Making Processes in Administrative Organizations. New York: Macmillan. Maddox, George L. Muddling Through: Planning for Health Care in England. In: Medical Care 9(5), pp. 439–448.