Interesting post by Daniel Little on the difference between the way most sociologist view human action and most economists.
Here is how Coleman describes two basic approaches to sociology in "Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital" (link; 1988)."There are two broad intellectual streams in the description and explanation of social action. One, characteristic of the work of most sociologists, sees the actor as socialized and action as governed by social norms, rules, and obligations. The principal virtues of this intellectual stream lie in its ability to describe action in social context and to explain the way action is shaped, constrained, and redirected by the social context. The other intellectual stream, characteristic of the work of most economists, sees the actor as having goals independently arrived at, as acting independently, and as wholly self-interested. Its principal virtue lies in having a principle of action, that of maximizing utility. This principle of action, together with a single empirical generalization (declining marginal utility) has generated growth of neoclassical economic theory, as well as the growth of political philosophy of several varieties: utilitarianism, contractarianism, and natural rights. (S95)" [emphasis added]Read it at Understanding Society
Coleman on the elementary actor
by Daniel Little