This study tests the explanatory value of the theory of rational choice in the sociology of social movements by studying Moroccan protest movements. It demonstrates the theoretical origins and development of rational choice theory, which assumes that individuals decide to participate, or not, in any social movement according to the calculation of profit and loss. By studying the movements of unemployed graduates in Morocco, the paper also shows that, despite the theory’s ability to interpret some aspects of social movements, it is deficient in explaining symbolically motivated movements. These movements stress self-assertion and immaterial values such as freedom and dignity, as is the case of the 20 February and the countryside movements. Alternatively, this study proposes to extend the boundaries of this theory to include the cognitive field through the application of axiological rationality instead of rational choice theory.