- Created by: molly.townsend_
- Created on: 22-11-18 12:22
Max Weber: Social Action Theory
Weber - structural and action theories are important in understanding human behaviour.
Two levels of sociological explanation are required:
- The level of cause - explains objective structural factors that shape behaviour.
- The level of meaning - understanding the subjective meanings that individuals attach to their actions.
Weber classifies the subjective meanings that people may give to their actions into four types:
- Instrumentally rational action - individual calculates most efficient way of achieving goal.
- Value rational action - action towards a goal which is desirable for own sake.
- Traditional action - involves customary, routine, or habitual actions.
- Affectual action - action that expresses emotion.
Evaluation - Schutz argues that Weber's view is too individualistic, cannot explain the shared nature of meanings.
Weber's typology of actions is difficult to apply.
Husserl, Schutz: Phenomonology
- World only makes sense as we impose meaning on it by using our senses and categorising our experiences - identifies each aspect of the world around us.
- We can only gain information about the world by giving meaning to our experiences.
- The world around us is a product of our mind.
- In social world, the categories and concepts we identify are shared with other members of society - called typifications.
- Meanings of our experiences vary within context, making them unclear and unstable.
- Typifications define meanings by ensuring all individuals agree on meanings of our actions.
- Large proportion of society share large amount of typficiations.
- Schutz sees the world as shared and inter-subjective. Can only exist when we share same meanings.
Evaluation: Berger and Luckmann - reject view that the world is inter-subjective reality. Society has been socially constructed and become external reality which reacts back on us,
Mead, Blumer: Symbolic Interactionism
- We respond to the world by giving meanings to things that are significant to us by attaching symbols to the world.
- Believes that we interpret other people's meanings by putting ourselves in the place of that person.
- Belives that for society to function, we must see ourselves as others see us, and become conscious of how others expect us to behave.
Blumer - continued Mead's idea through three key principles:
- Actions are based on meanings we give to situations.
- Meanings arise from interactions process and are not fixed at the outset.
- The meanings we give to situations are a result of the interpretive procedures we use.
Blumer's view of human behaviour contrasts with structural theories (functionalism). Our behaviour is partly predictiable, but not completely fixed.
Goffman, Labelling Theory: Symbolic Interactionism
Labelling theory - three key interactionist concepts that highlight labelling theory:
- The definition of the situation - if a situation is labelled as real, it will have real consequences.
- The looking glass self - our ideas of who we are arise from our ability to see ourselves as others see us. Self-fulfilling prophecy arises from this.
- Career - stages in which someone progresses in their occupation. Can be applied to medical students, marijuana smokers etc.
- Argues how we actively construct our 'self' by manipulating impressions of us.
- Dramaturgical approach - uses analogies with drama as a framework for social interaction (e.g. social stage)
- Some argue that symbolic interactionism is more a collection of descriptive concepts than an explanatory theory.
- Focuses on face-to-face interactions and ignores social structures such as inequality.