FARAVID 35/2011


Jari-Matti Kuusela – Juha Saunavaara, Thoughts on decision making as a subject of study in history and archaeology

This paper focuses on building a theoretical framework for the study of decision making in the disciplines concerned with the study of the human past. The authors suggest that this subject, despite its clear importance, has been somewhat under-theorised in the authors’ respective disciplines. Rather than empirical case-studies, this paper focuses on an abstract framework concerned with the nature of decision making as a social action within the social context of the respective society and how and why this social framework must be taken into account before starting to analyse the decision-making process itself. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of fields is utilised to show that traditional models of decision making, often used in history and archaeology, are over-simplifying a complex matter. Instead, it is suggested that in order to understand any decision-making process, one has to take into account not only the habitus of the agents involved in the decision-making process but also the social networks, i.e. fields, that they are connected with.  

Faravid 35/2011