Exam: term paper (3.000 words) or three essays (1.000 words each)
Social situations are often characterized by a dilemma between self-regarding motives and preferences on the one hand and collective concerns and rationalities on the other hand. Although they do not ... read more
Social situations are often characterized by a dilemma between self-regarding motives and preferences on the one hand and collective concerns and rationalities on the other hand. Although they do not fit the standard expectations of self-interest, we frequently observe prosocial behaviors such as helping, charitable giving, unconditional cooperation, and generosity in these situations. Interestingly, altruistic behavior is not confined to individual actors, but extends to groups, communities, and even nation states. How can we understand and explain these behaviors? What are the conditions that are conducive or detrimental to prosociality? And what are the limits and challenges related to prosocial behavior? Whereas psychologists and economists have primarily attended to individual-level factors in attending to these questions, for example by looking at preferences and motivations, sociological research rather focuses on social structural and cultural explanations. In this seminar, we will (1) learn about basic sociological understandings of altruism and prosocial behavior, (2) discuss the essential role of norms, values, and moral convictions, and (3) attend to cross-national and intergroup issues related prosocial behavior. close
Simpson, B., Willer, R. (2015). Beyond Altruism: Sociological Foundations of Cooperation and Prosocial Behavior. Annual Review of Sociology, in press.