Sunday, February 20, 2005

Maybe Sociology Isn't Non-Sense!

Sociology is a popular whipping-boy among economists, I'm sure we've all heard the jokes (if you haven't I can tell you a few). But Pub Sociology delievers an example (as it so often does) that makes me think sociology isn't the joke some economists make it out to be.

Check out: A Sociological Apporach To College Drinking

Political differences aside this is really interesting to me.

I'd imagine that a typical economist's approach to curbing binge drinking would be to "raise the price" of the activity--probably by establishing tougher fines/punishments or raising the probability of being caught. Sociologists are trying a different approach by trying to change behavior directly by removing the social norm that binge drinking is an accepted and popular activity.

IOW: While economists are busy adjusting the parameters of the utility function, while sociologists are attempting to change the utility function itself.

I don't think the Sociological approach in this case is any less reasonable than Economical approach, and it might actually be less costly and more effective. Maybe, just maybe, we should consider listening to people outside of our own discipline. Sometimes, SOMETIMES, they might have something informative to say.