Decades ago, sociologists criticized the “oversocialized conception of man” (Wrong 1961) that played a prominent role in the work of Durkheim (1938) and Parsons (1937). They rightly questioned Homo Sociologicus, a creature who follows prevailing social norms without regard to self-interest. But they did not develop an alternative, empirically grounded, and widely accepted conception of the basic motivational driving forces of humans. This contrasts sharply with the approach taken by mainstream economics that rests on the notion of Homo Economicus, a creature who is rational and purely self regarding. However, the Homo Economicus approach is also erroneous, as the assumption that humans are exclusively self-regarding has been decisively rejected by the evidence (Camerer 2003, Fehr & Fischbacher 2003, Gintis et al. 2003). Thus, although the lack of a model of human social behavior leaves sociology without an anchor, mainstream economics is hitched to the wrong anchor, i.e., adheres to a biased view of human nature.
This version of humanity from two different social sciences, like Fehr and Gintis say, are a caricature. Humans seek acceptance into groups but they also seek self interest. The reality of how humans behave is somewhere between these two important views of man. This is a very interesting appetizer to the big entree of how society should be structured.
By the way, in my sociology reading I also came across this article from sociology blog orgtheory on Toqueville and how he viewed democracy and (how it needed) religion.