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Ma il vero problema sono gli effetti perversi

And yet the real problem lies in the "perverse effects" of the action

Anno XXIII, n. 102, luglio-settembre 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

The author observes, first of all, that the Italian sociological debate has been rather different from the one in France. In Italy, whereas psychoanalytical and structuralist readings have had a generally limited effect in sociology, the Marxist reading has, in a big way (although now this effect has, by and large, disappeared). The phenomenological reading—based on authors such as Schültz, Berger and Luckmann more than on Husserl—has also had a big effect in sociology, since the late seventies. A critique of this reading is indispensable but cannot be made with the tools Boudon provides.
If we depart from the theory of rationality in its strongest sense (i.e. based on the interest motive and the calculation of that interest), a whole series of explanations may be brought forward. Pizzorno of the phenomenological school, for example, introduces identity: others are the ways in which the situation is represented, the accessibility and cost of information and so on. These explanations, however, are "reasonable" rather than "rational": and this entails the risk of producing what Pareto termed "derivations", ex post explanations of the way in which the subject has behaved.
Although these derivations may be of some use, the rationality of the social sciences, nonetheless, demands ex ante explanations. This is why the question raised by Boudon of the "perverse effects" of the social action (perhaps even of rationality) is especially stimulating and certainly worthy of further investigation.