Action theories; theory and methods



  • We pull together information we already know; helps us come to a conclusion 
  • Garfinkel for example looks at refelectivity eg. the examination of suicide, corroners use infomation they already know about the person to decide if the death was accidental/ suicidal. 

Example; Crime and Deviance

  • Police stereotype based on a past event such as 9/11 and therefore target groups such as young male muslims. 
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Labelling theory

  • Refers to being labelled depending on the situation 
  • normally minorities are labelled eg. the working class or ethnic minorities 
  • this leads to a self-fufilling phrophecy 

Example; the education system 

the working class are labelled by teachers as are ethnic minorities 

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Symbolic interactionism

  • Focuses on how the social world is created between through the meanings we give to situations 
  • Mead; argues that animals act upon instinct however, humans interpret behaviour before they respond to a situation 
  • in order to interpret meanings mead says we must put ourselves in their shoes 

family primary socialisation --> leads to beliefs of future generations --> continues capitalism 


- Other sociologists argue that symbolic interactionism is not a theory; more like a collection of concepts 

- it ignores wider social structures such as class and gender 

- it cannot explain consistant patterns 

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Goffmans dramaturgical model

  • we are actors acting out our 'scripts' with our 'props' 
  • we can only be our true selves when we are alone 
  • we portray oursleves differently depending on who we are with 
  • we use language, tone of voice and facial expressions to convince. 

eg . Hybrid identities (beliefs) 

young muslims often floot no alcohol rule when with friends but are very intergrated with muslim beliefs when at home 

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