Intro to Sociology, Week 3 notes
Intro to Sociology, Week 3 notes Soc 100
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This 18 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jordan Pimental on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Soc 100 at Indiana University taught by Professor Felicia Helvey in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 55 views. For similar materials see Introductory Sociology in Sociology at Indiana University.
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Lecture Notes for January 25, 2016 Topics for today: 1. What is sociological theory? 2. Who are the “Big three” of sociological theory? 3. What are the contributions of those “Big three”? What is Sociological Theory? *Sociological Theory is like piecing together a puzzle to understand the world- it’s a framework for understanding how the world works Standing on the Shoulders of Giants *Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim are the big 3 of classical sociological theory Marx & The Market System * Marx argued that the relationship between the two is exploitive because of the nature of capitalism -if the goal is to make the maximum profit, the capitalist will pay the proletariat the bare minimum to keep them coming back -It’s also exploitive because the proletariat is doing all the work for the capitalist to reap all the benefits and credit. *Marx predicted that one day, the proletariat group will gain class consciousness and form a Utopia Communist Society* What does Marx mean by alienation? Marx also argued that workers are alienated from their work This is because repetitive work is not a natural expression of human ability -The workers have little to no connection with finished product as well as competition against their fellow workers Weber: Connecting Social Institutions *Rationalization: The process by which social structures are increasingly characterized by most direct or efficient means to their ends* Benefits and Drawbacks to Rationalization The Iron Cage of Rationalization- It limits our individual choices & freedom Benefits: It can be faster, orderly, easier for workers, ensures fairness Drawbacks: tedious, navigation of system can be tricky, everyone is treated the same-negative aspect if an exception or special circumstance arises Primary Contributions of Durkheim: Social Order What happens when things go wrong? Durkheim did a suicide study because he didn’t understand why white middle class males were committing suicide. Anomie: the feeling that you do not know what is expected of you in a society Durkheim: Anomie happens when society has low control over you and the social structures do not sufficiently constrain your actions/passions Lecture Notes January 27,2016 Sociological Theory Topics for Today: 1. What are the three classical sociological theories? 2. What do these theories suggest about social life? 3. Using the three theories in examples Functionalism: Society as an Organism -Society works like an organism -Everything has a purpose -Each individual part of a cell serves a function -Each part of society serves a function Example: Even crime serves a function in society- provides police officers with jobs and reinforces beliefs & values that govern our laws. Conflict Theory Conflict theory can be thought of as the inverse of structural-functionalism. Consensus vs. Conflict Power-Symbolic or Material Coercion- it’s through coercion that people abide by norms. Symbolic Interactionism: The Basics Symbolic Interactionism can be thought of as a 3 step process 1. People act toward things based on the meaning things have for them 2. These meanings are derived though social interactions 3. These meanings are modified through interpretation Example: The little mermaid acted as if a fork were something she should brush her hair with and call a dinglehopper, because her only interaction regarding it taught her that, when Scuttle the seagull taught her that was its purpose. However, this meaning was later modified when she had dinner with P bnnnnnnrince Eric and it became clear that she shouldn’t brush her hair with a fork. Subjective meaning: People behave the way they do because of the meanings they bring to a situation, not because of an objective reality Definition of the situation: What people use to know what is expected of them in a particular situation. Reading Notes P. 27-39 Thinking Sociologically How do theories help us understand politics and other social institutions? Sociologists use theories to make sense of the phenomena they study. A sociologist’s perspective on any given issue is therefore freamed by the particular explanatory theories to which he or she subscribes. -Some sociologists suggest political jockeying & debate are normal function of a stable government -Others believe that factions fighting to promot their own interests are enacting a simple, if large-scale, power struggle -Others explain it as a reflection of the ideological divide that exists within the US Theories: sets of interrelated ideas that have a wide range of applications, deal with centrally important issues, and have withstood the test of time. -Withstanding the test of time means they continue to be applicable to the changing social world & have withstood challenges from those who accept other theories Theory of Violence (Randall Collins ): Violence is clearly an important social issue, and this theory promises to stand the test of time. Contradicts the idea that violence is inherent in people and emphasizes the social contexts and causes of violence instead Violence is: horrible and heroic, disgusting and exciting, the most condemned and glorified of human acts. -He is seeking to develop a perspective that meets our definition of theory. Theorizing is not restricted to sociologists- Everyone theorizes. Sociologists theorize systematically by making the social world their laboratory Sociologists work directly with and read the work of other contemporary sociologists and base their theories on the work of many important thinkers in the field who have come before them. The Giants of Classical Sociological Theory 3 & 4 century BCE there were thinkers whose ideas were relevant to sociology, such as Plato & Aristotle. Centuries later, Ibn Khaldun developed sociological theories that dealt with such issues as the scientific study of society, the interrelationship between politics and the economy, and the relationship between primitive societies and them medieval societies of his time. -Emergence of sociological theory closely related to intellectual & social developments throughout 19 century Europe -Sociological theory did not develop in isolation or come of age in a social vacuum. – the industrial revolution as well as political revolutions profoundly affected sociological theorizing. Auguste Comte: noted for invention of the term sociology, development of a general theory of the social world, and interest in developing a science of sociology Harriet Martineau: developed a scientific and general theory, although she is best known today for her feminist, women-centered sociology. Herbert Spence: developed a general, scientific theory of society, but his overriding theoretical interest was in social change, specifically evolution in not only the physical domain but also the intellectual and social domains. -Not THE big three- those would be Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim. Karl Marx Communism practiced in the Soviet Union & other countries had little relationship to Marx’s abstract sense of communism- he would have been as critical of it as he was capitalism. -Marx was a macro theorist who focused on the structure of capitalist society, a relatively new phenomenon in his day. Marx defined capitalism as an economic system based on the fact that one group of people-the capitalists- owns that is needed for production. A second group- the proletariat- owns little or nothing except their capacity for work & labor. These workers must sell their time for wages from capitalists. In Marx’s view- the capitalist system is marked by exploitation in that the proletariat produces everything but gets only a small portion of the income derived from the sale of the product, while the capitalists reap the vast majority of rewards. In addition, workers experience alienation on the job because: -the work they do is repetitive and not a natural expression of human skills, abilities, and creativity -they have little or no connection to the finished product -instead of working harmoniously with fellow workers, they have little to no contact with them and are likely to be in competition or outright conflict with them over who keeps and loses their jobs. Therefore what defines people as human beings is denied to workers in capitalism. Marx predicted the gap between the two social classes would increase and workers would understand how capitalism really worked, and overthrow the capitalists. Marx believed his work was important because capitalists worked hard to ensure proletariats didn’t understand the capital system by producing an ideology, or set of ideas, that distorted the reality of capitalism. The proletariat suffered from false consciousness: The workers did not truly understand capitalism and may have even believed, erroneously that the system operated to their benefit. Marx hypothesized that proletariats could develop class consciousness- with which they would understand capitalism, their collective role, and their relationship to one another & capitalists. Marx’s theories about capitalism are relevant to contemporary US society. Examples: Income disparity gap is huge & growing Corporations search for workers willing to work for the lowest wages possible However, no revolution has taken place in part because the kind of proletariat Marx focused on- manufacturing workers- is declining in number and importance in developed countries. Max Weber Leading academician of his day- devoted attention to the economy & many of Marx’s ideas informed Weber’s thinking. Weber’s best known work: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism In this work, Weber tried to analyze the relationship between economy and religion. Like Marx, he accepted central importance of economy in general, and capitalism. But he wanted to demonstrate importance of other sociological variables. Marx argued that religion was a minor force served to distract the masses from problems caused by capitalism. Weber focused on the central role religion had played in the Western world’s economic development Protestantism and Calvinism lead to the rise of capitalism in the West and not in other areas of the world Calvinists believed that people were predestined to go to Heaven or Hell and they couldn’t change that- they could only uncover signs that indicated whether or not they were saved. Economic success was an indication that one was going to Heaven. –Calvinists had to devote their lives to economic success and other “good works”. Calvinists also believed in hard work & being frugal. While the spirit of Capitalism came from the Protestant Ethic, it eventually grew away from its roots in Calvinism. Capitalist thinking eventually could not accommodate thoughts like ethics and religion. Weber was interested in the broad phenomenon of rationalization: the process by which social structures are increasingly characterized by the most direct and efficient means to their ends. -Capitalism is rational because of its continual efforts to find ways to produce more profitable product efficiently, with fewer inputs and simpler processes. And example of rationalism in Capitalism is the creation of the assembly line. Rationalization leads to an “Iron Cage” making it increasingly difficult to escape the process. “Capitalism forces the individual, in so far as he is involved in the system of market relationships, to conform to capitalist rules of action.” Weber (1904-1905) Weber felt that communism or socialism would not eliminate or prevent he iron cage from enveloping us. Emile Durkheim Durkheim focused on the macro end of the social continuum, but unlike Marx and Weber, Durkheim generally had a positive view of macro structures. The major concern of the science of sociology was social facts- these are macro-level phenomena, such as social structures and cultural norms and values, that stand apart form people and, more important, impose themselves on people. Examples: structures of your university and the U.S. government. They are Durkheimian social facts since they have an independent existence and are able to force people to do things. -Durkheim felts that these structures & their constraints were necessary and highly desirable. Differences between Marx, Weber, and Durkheim can be traced to each one’s sense of essential character of human beings; Marx & Weber had generally positive sense of people as thoughtfuol, creative, and naturally social- and criticized social structures for stifling & distorting people’s innate characteristics In contrast: Durkheim had a largely negative view of people as being slaves to their passions. Left to their own devices, he believed, people would seek to satisfy those passions. However, satisfying one passion would lead to the need to satisfy others. In Durkheim’s view passions should be limited, but people are unable to exercise this control themselves- they need social facts capable of limiting and controlling their passions. Collective Conscience: the set of beliefs shared by people throughout society -in Durkheim’s view, CC is a good thing- highly desirable for society and for individuals. Suicide Study: Durkheim studied why one group had a higher rate of suicide than others- suicide threatens the individual and the society because it goes against the collective conscience. Durkheim differentiated among four types of suicide. Anomic Suicide- Anomie: people’s feelings that they do not know what is expected of them in society- the feeling of being adrift in society without any clear or secure moorings. –This occurs when society’s regulation over individual is low and their passions are allowed to run wiled. Durkheim worried about too little control. An early form of society with little division of labor contained: Mechanical solidarity-solidarity stemming from the fact that they all did pretty much the same kinds of work, had a strong collective conscience -Increasing division of labor took place over time-> people began to specialize->differences held people together because they had to depend on each other-> Organic Solidarity -This weakened the collective conscience- A problem for Durkheim because it lost the power to control people’s passions- therefore people were more likely to feel anomic and more likely to commit suicide. Other Important Early Theorists Georg Simmel Georg Simmel’s major important in contemporary sociology lies in his contributions to micro theory. He believed sociologists should focus on the way conscious individuals interact and associate with one another. -Interested in forms taken by social interaction -Like the interaction between superiors and subordinates -Interested in types of people who engage in interaction -For example, one type is the poor person, another is a rich person -It’s the nature of interaction between these two types of people and not the nature of the people themselves that was of the greatest importance. Poverty: Not about the nature of the poor person, but about the nature of the interaction taking place between the poor and the rich. A poor person is defined, not as someone who lacks money, but as someone who receives aid from a rich person. *Greatest contribution was in micro-interactionst theories* W. E. B. Du Bois W. E. B. Du Bois was crucial to the later focus of sociology on race. Best known for his theoretical ideas, but was also a pioneer researcher. Du Bois placed most of the blame for the problems experienced by black Philadelphians on whites, racism, and discrimination- but he did not ignore the role played by African Americans in these problems. -Example: Their tendency to visit white physicians thereby adversely affecting the livelihood of black physicians. Du Bois saw a “color line” existing between blacks and whites. This barrier was physical in that they could be physically distinguished visually. This barrier was political in that much of the white population didn’t see African Americans as “true” Americans & therefore denied them many political rights. This barrier was psychological because, African Americans found it difficult to see themselves in ways other than the ways in which white society saw them. Du Bois’ goal was to lift the veil of race and show white people who Negroes really are- and to give black people the opportunity to see themselves in a different way. Double Consciousness: Black Americans have a sense of “two-ness,” of being American and of being African American. They are both inside and outside dominant, white American society. -produces great tension for African Americans Other ethnicities can be seen as having double consciousness Thorstein Veblen Most famous work: The Theory of the Leisure Class -Concerned with the way in which the upper classes demonstrate their wealth -Conspicuous Leisure: doing things that demonstrate quite publicly that one does not need to do what most people consider to be work. -Veblen believed that the wealthy want to demonstrate to all that they can afford to waste time, often a great deal of time. -Over time, focus for the wealthy shifts from publicly demonstrating a waste of time, to publicly demonstrating a waste of money. -Conspicuous consumption The leisure class is the highest social class system Veblen is important because he focused on consumption at a time when it was largely ignored by other social theorists Reading Notes P. 39-55 Contemporary Sociological Theory Work of classical theorists has influenced each of the branching out newer theories. Contemporary theories can be categorized as structural/functional theories, conflict/critical, and inter/actionist theories. Structural/Functional Theories These theories have evolved out of the observation and analysis of large-scale social phenomena These phenomena include the state and the culture, the latter encompassing the ideas and objects that allow people to carry out their collective lives. The two major theories under the broad heading of structural/functional theories are Structural-functionalism- looks at both social structures and their functions Structuralism- concerns itself solely with social structures, without concern for their functions Structural-Functionalism Structural-functionalists are influenced by the work of Emile Durkheim -Durkheim discussed functions of and structural limits placed on deviance- for example. -These theorists start with a positive view of social structures, and assert those structures as desirable, necessary and even impossible to do without. -Structural-functionalism is considered a “conservative” theory -Idea that if a structure exists and is functional, it ought to be retained and conserved Structural-functionalism ideas are easily explained in the context of globalization. Robert Merton -One central concept in his version of structural-functionalism: Functions Functions: observable, positive consequences of a structure that help it survive, adapt and adjust. Dysfunctions: observable consequences that negatively affect the ability of a given system to survive, adapt, or adjust. Two types of functions: Manifest functions: positive consequences that are brought consciously and purposely Latent functions: unintended positive consequences Unanticipated consequences: consequences that are unexpected and can be either positive or, more important, negative. Structuralism Structuralism is more interested in hidden or underlying structures, such as the global economic order or gender relations. -adopts view that these hidden structures determine what transpires on the surface of the social world -This perspective comes from the field of linguistics which has largely adopted the view that the surface, the way we speak and express ourselves, is determined by an underlying grammatical system -Marx is a structuralist because he was interested in hidden structures that determine how capitalism works Friedrich Engels looked at relationships between women and men and theorized that structures of capitalism and patriarchy kept women subordinated to men. Engels assumed that family structure followed an evolutionary path from primitive to modern. ACCORDING TO ENGELS: Early Communistic society: multiple sexual pairings and uncertainty about who fathered a child gave women power in family and society. Property passed from mother to child, and women were held in high esteem. -Wealth began to accumulate, men gained control of agricultural production, and men claimed more status. -To guarantee his wife’s fidelity and paternity of the children, social system, evolved so wife was subjugated to male power and men sought to claim women as their own property -Monogamy eventually led to the even more restrictive marriage bond. -Engels believed female oppression to be rooted in the hidden and underlying structure of private property rights in capitalism. Therefore he thought the key to ending oppression was to abolish private property. -ENGELS WAS MISTAKEN- primitive communism never really existed. Structural approach is useful- it leads sociologists to look beyond the surface for underlying structures and reality, which determine what transpires on the surface. Debunking: plays off the idea that visible social structures such as the state are mere “facades” It’s the task of sociologists to debunk such facades and look beneath and beyond. Goal of structuralists is to merely understand the underlying structure, while debunking not only seeks such understanding, but also critically analyzes the underlying reality and its impact on visible social structures Conflict Critical Theories Several theories are discussed under this heading: conflict theory, critical theory, feminist theory, queer theory, critical theories of race and racism, and post-modern theory. All emphasize stresses, strains, and conflicts in a society Conflict Theory Conflict Theory: has its roots in Marx’s theories- an inversion of structural-functionalism, which conflict theory was designed to compete with and to counteract Conflict theory focuses on society’s negative aspects To the conflict theorist: society is held together by coercion. Those who are adversely affected by society would rebel if not for the coercive forces like police, courts and military. Conflict theorists emphasize the ever-present possibility of change -See dissension and conflict everywhere, stress the coercion and power that holds together an otherwise fractious society -See two sides to society: consensus and conflict and believe that both are needed. Therefore society needs two different theories: Conflict theory and “consensus” (or structural- functionalism) theory. Ralf Dahrendorf: offered sociological view of authority arguing that it resides not in individuals, but in positions and in various associations of people -Everything is controlled by a hierarchy of authority positions and the people who occupy them. -People may be authority in one type of association, but subordinate in another. -Potential for conflict between those in positions of authority and those who are subordinate because they have very different interests. Conflict groups may form- coalitions formed out of resistance efforts increasing cohesion among group members, further uniting them and bolstering the strength of the movement. Critical Theory Critical theory shifts focus from economy to culture. Critical theorists believe that culture has become important in its own right. Instead of being controlled by capitalist economy, more of us are more often controlled by culture and culture industry Culture Industry: consists of the rationalized and bureaucratized structures that control modern culture. Mass culture: cultural elements that are administered by organizations, lack spontaneity, and are phony. Two features of mass culture are of concern to critical theorists. -Falseness. True culture should emanate from the people- but mass culture involves prepackaged sets of ideas that falsify reality. Example: “reality T.V. shows” -Repressiveness. Critical theorists feel that the masses need to be informed about things like the falseness of culture so that they can develop a clear sense of society’s failings and the need to rebel against them. The effect of mass culture is to pacify, stupefy and repress the masses so that they are far less likely to demand social change. There is still a spot for critical theory in media platforms because websites like YouTube have content that is provided by those who consume material on the sites. Websites like this are arguable spontaneous and authentic Even though some of these websites are not yet profitable, they’ve become worth billions of dollars because of investors’ belief in their future profitability. -And the masses are pacified by watching videos on YouTube, buying and selling on Ebay, and updating their Facebook pages. Feminist Theory Historically male social theorists have received the most attention Also tend to ignore gender more generally Neglected to explore how femininity and masculinity are part of everything. Feminist theorists point up and attempt to rectify the masculine bias built into most social theories. Feminist theory: the critique of patriarchy and the problems it poses not only for women but also for men. Offers ideas on how everyone’s situation can be bettered, if not revolutionized. A few feminist theorists believe there are essential differences between men’s and women’s behavior & that gender inequality is result of social devaluing of female characteristics (such as nurturing) Majority, however, argue that gender differences are socially constructed- the differences we see in behavior between men and women are not biologically determined but rather created socially. -Feminist theorists disagree on underlying causes of socially constructed gender differences. One view: men, as the dominant group in society, have defined gender in such a way as to purposely restrain and subordinate women. Another view: social structures such as capitalist organizations and patriarchal families have evolved to favor men and traditionally male roles Both structures benefit from the uncompensated labor of women, and so there is little incentive for men as a dominant group to change the status quo. –These both involve a critical orientation Women continue to face extraordinary problems related directly to gender inequality -Some scholars argue that feminist theory generally reflects the perspective of white women while ignoring the unique experiences and viewpoints of women of color. Queer Theory Queer: originally negative term for gay men Contemporary LGBT people have reclaimed the label queer, but with a positive connotation. -Queer theory is not a theory of queer folks. It contrasts with gay and lesbian studies which focuses on homosexualities. Queer theory: based on the argument that there are no fixed and stable identities that determine who we are. The theory unsettles identities that have been long thought to be fixed, stable or natural. It is a diverse group of ideas about how cultures develop gender and sexuality norms, notions of conformity and power relations. Doesn’t focus exclusively on homosexuality- does examine dynamics of relationship between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Is in early stages of its development. Promises to deepen our understanding of the full spectrum of sexuality and to dispel a variety of myths Disrupt hierarchies of power and broaden acceptance of sexual and other minorities and to promote greater inclusion for all Critical Theories of Race and Racism Critical theories of race & racism: argues that race continues to matter globally and that racism continues to have adverse effects on people of color. United States have often been singled out for analysis using this theory -Some argue that white Americans have become “color blind” and that they’ve learned to ignore skin color when discussing social groups and skin color is no longer being used in hiring or admissions policies. -Theorists of Critical Theories of Race and Racism disagree. -Color blindness ignores the past and present realities facing racial minorities, including the social consequences of years of racial discrimination. “Color blindness,” is nothing more than a “new racism,” a smoke screen that allows whites to practice and perpetuate racial discrimination. Whites believe there is equal employment opportunity but only a minority of black Americans subscribe to that view. The smoke screen of equality has allowed more discrimination against blacks Some argue that criticisms of President Obama’s qualifications for office and of some of his policies are a sign of thinly veiled racism. Inter/Actionist Theories The slash is meant to communicate the fact that we will deal with two closely related sets of theories here. The first consists of those theories that deal mainly with the interaction of two or more people (symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, and exchange theory). The second comprises those that focus more on the actions of individuals (rational choice theory.) Common factor: focus on the micro level of individuals and groups Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic Interactionism: concerned with the interaction of two or more people through the use of symbols. We all engage in mutual action with many others on a daily basis- However, interaction could not take place without symbols: words, gestures, and even objects that stand for things. Symbols allow the communication of meaning among a group of people. We need and use words to interact. Basic Principles of Symbolic Interactionism -Humans have great capacity for thought, differentiating them from lower animals. Innate capacity for thought shaped by social interaction. Through this interaction people acquire symbolic meanings, allowing them to exercise their ability to think -Symbolic meanings are not set in stone-people modify them based on a given situation and their interpretation of it. -People are able to modify symbolic meanings because of their unique ability to think. Symbolic interactionists frame thinking as people’s ability to interact with themselves. – In that interaction, people are able to alter symbolic meanings. Able to examine various courses of action open to them in given situations and to choose among them. -It’s the pattern of those choices that is the basis of groups, larger structures such as bureaucracies, and society as a whole. Symbolic interactionists are interested in how various aspects of identity are created and sustained in social interaction. Ethnomethodology Ethnomethodology: another inter/actionist theory focusing on what people do rather than on what they think. Studies the way people organize everyday life. -Regard people’s lives and social worlds as practical accomplishments that are quite extraordinary. -Take a different view of large-scale social structures than do structural-functionalists- argue that the view of people and their actions as being highly constrained by those structures tells us very little about what really goes on within structures. -Rather than being constrained, people act within these structures and go about much of their business using common sense rather than official procedures. Study of conversation- three basic issues: -Voice cues as an element of conversation: Vocal cues such as pauses, throat clearings, and silences can be important methods in making conversation -Stable and orderly properties of conversations: taking turns speaking and knowing when it is their turn to talk. Ethnomehodologists might examine how those properties change when two strangers converse rather than two friends. One finding is that a higher-status person is more likely to interrupt a lower-status person. -Actions necessary to maintain conversations: Those involved in a conversation can observe, enforce or upset the properties of conversation. There are things we all do or say to accomplish being feminine or masculine. Exchange Theory Exchange theorists are interested in the behavior itself and the rewards and costs associated with it. Exchange theory: argued that instead of studying large-scale structures, sociologists should study the “elementary forms of social life.” Interested in social behavior that usually involves two or more people and a variety tangible and intangible exchanges. In their actions and interactions, people are seen as rational profit seekers. People will continue on courses of action, or in interactions, in which the rewards are greater than the costs. -They will discontinue those in which the costs exceed the rewards. Over years, Exchange theory has grown more concerned with how elementary forms of social behavior lead to more complex social situations. Exchange relationships: developed after individual exchanges become stable over time. Example: hooking up – Exchange relationships rarely develop in isolation from other exchange relationships. Exchange relationships can be so highly interconnected that they become a single network structure. Key issue: the power that some members over others and the dependency of some members. Rational Choice Theory Rational Choice Theory: people are regarded as rational, but the focus is not exchange, rewards, and costs. Basic principle in rational choice theory is that people act intentionally in order to achieve goals. People choose among available means to achieve their goals on a rational basis. Two important constraints on the ability to act rationally Access to scarce resources: It’s relatively easy for those with access to lots of resources to act rationally and reach their goals. Those who lack such resources are less likely to act rationally. Requirements of social structures: The structures in which people find themselves often have rules restricting actions available within the structures. These theorists understand that people don’t always act rationally, but they argue that their predictions will generally hold despite these occasional deviations.
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