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Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  296 ratings  ·  21 reviews
This book is an expanded and revised edition of the author's critically acclaimed volume Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences. In twenty-six succinct chapters, Jon Elster provides an account of the nature of explanation in the social sciences. He offers an overview of key explanatory mechanisms in the social sciences, relying on hundreds of examples and drawing on a larg ...more
Paperback, 484 pages
Published April 28th 2007 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 1st 1989)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Nikola Todorić
This is a place to start (and to always come back) for every social scientist. Lots of biology, psychology, economics, rational choice and behavioral science (and no post-structuralism, cultural theory and deconstruction at all), which makes this book a really useful guide to the concepts and mechanisms in explaining social phenomena in a scientific and sensible way.
Alex Zakharov
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yep, easily the most thorough and attention-demanding book I’ve read this year on any subject and certainly the best book bar none on human behavior. Elster has the guts to systematically show that we know more about human behavior than is generally believed but not nearly as much as most professionals in the field claim. The book is an incredible example of applying clear rigorous thinking to show the limits of how far that rigor can take you, and without resorting to throwing up your hands in ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
Ignorance is bliss. Elster knows how to twist words to make him sound deeper than he is. And on this magic trick is based his entire life. Somehow that qualifies him to any field of knowledge, just like any other prophet coming out from the desert after fasting a few weeks.
Jen Watkins
May 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: work
This is a dense book and I made it through the whole thing, but I am afraid I don't remember much. I do not feel changed by the book, nor do I feel any closer to understanding social behavior. However, I must give credit to any author who is willing to write a tome with his name on it promising that he will explain it. ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
On par with the works on Kahneman when it comes to sheer content on human nature. Really really enjoyed it.

May 18, 2008 marked it as to-read
Recommendations from aaron sw
Milovan Dekic
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fundamental red for anyone who wants to engage in explaining human behavior. Gives a nice direction about how to think straight about it.
Yann Roshdy
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magnifique bouquin a ranger au même niveau que "Thinking Fast and Slow" de Daniel Kahneman et "Behave" de Robert Sapolsky. Trois ouvrages magistraux qui exploitent trois perspectives différentes, certes, mais qui 1) sont transversales, 2) ancrées dans l'état des sciences actuelles, et 3) critiquent de front l'état des sciences humaines et sociales dans academia. En effet, Kahneman est un psychologue qui a gagné le Nobel d'économie pour avoir "découvert" le mécanisme de "loss aversion" (crainte d ...more
Dio Mavroyannis
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is a very good read, with a lot of nice literature or religious references. My favorite thing I learned was about the Torah saying that sacrificing a specific person for a greater good is only okay if the community isn't the one selecting who that person is. The book is great for its scope, it should be the first thing that is consulted when thinking about various social science topics such as beliefs, motivations, etc. It is sometimes rather short on actually giving a meaningful analysis but ...more
Jul 20, 2020 added it
Shelves: sociology
So I read the un-expanded version. Mea culpa.

So this is an attempt to provide a codified language for sociology, with a heavy emphasis on concepts taken from game theory and psychology. One wonders why, in this era in which Kahneman, Thaler, et al are praised for similar approaches, Jon Elster isn't more widely read. I'm still a bit iffy on some of his proclamations, but this was an interesting attempt at a sort of primer.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thought-provoking, occasionally tendentious, but never boring. The bibliographies are worth a read in themselves. Elster is something -- pellucid and fearless, the kind of thinker I want to be some day.
Dec 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not being an economist this book was dense for me in many places but my daughter, studying social economics in grad school, encouraged me to complete it. After many starts and stops I'm glad I persevered. I might even re-read parts of it and just skip over the graphs and charts! ...more
Alexander Anderson
Jan 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
An intriguing, difficult, exhausting and significant book. Probably beyond my puny capabilities to review. But I'll give it a shot, anyway.

Explaining Social Behaviour is a very erudite, very intelligent scholar's attempt to translate the mind boggling complexities of social interaction, myriad of behaviours and infinite motivations into a logical structure with mathematical underpinnings, a sort of sociological calculus.

It encompasses an astonishing, hypothetical wonderverse of assumptions that
Jesper Balslev
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociologi
Fuldstændig suveræn gennemgang af forklaringsmodeller til hvorfor mennesker opfører sig som de gør, præcis skildring af grænserne for sociologi som videnskab, en smuk hyldest til og katalogisering af menneskets irrationelle tendenser, vidunderligt illustreret med eksempler fra den klassiske litteratur, og ikke mindst en præcis og nødvendig kritik af den kvantitative sociologi (big data etc) der er så meget oppe i tiden.
Feb 02, 2013 marked it as incomplete
This mostly served to prime me for in-class discussions and lend some context to the professor's lectures, or suggest examples. So I didn't really engage with it. Part of me feels like it's mostly just a chance for Elster to show off his erudition: "Look at all the pertinent historical trivia I know!" ...more
عمرو عبدالحميد
هو دراسة أكتر منه كتاب محدد موضوعه.

الكتاب كبير جداً أكتر من 700 صفحة فالحكم عليه بشكل عام هيقلل من قيمة فصول ويعلي قيمة فصول, فيه فصول كانت بسيطة جداً وممتازة والكاتب قدر يوصل المعلومة والفكرة, وفصول تانية مستفدتش منها أي حاجه.

طلعت منه بأفكار كتير محتاجه تفصيل أكتر عشان ابدأ اطبقها في أي تواصل مع المجتمع سواء توعية أو حملات إنتخابية في المستقبل.

Nick Short
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Is social science possible? An underlying premise here is that near the entirety of social science can be found in the annals of the less prestigious 'subject' of history.

A jewel.

Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
i'm finally done with this one. elster has a gift for explaining, but still much of it flew above my head. i wish i were a bit smarter and a bit less lazy. ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Philosophy of social science primer. Superior.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Shallow and lousy written. Avoid if you can.
Mohamed basha
كتاب الدارسين في علم الاجتماع و ليس للهواة
Ludvig Bellehumeur
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Sep 24, 2013
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Jon Elster ، born 22 February 1940, Oslo) is a Norwegian social and political theorist who has authored works in the philosophy of social science and rational choice theory. He is also a notable proponent of analytical Marxism, and a critic of neoclassical economics and public choice theory, largely on behavioral and psychological grounds.

In 2016, he was awarded the 22nd Johan Skytte Prize in Poli

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