Social Action Theory>WEBER
People are able to hold meanings about the world and consciously act on those meanings as they are have consciousness. Weber saw social behaviour in terms of the meanings people attach to actions. This takes account of the way other people act.
The aim of sociological investigation should be the creation of an understanding of the meanings, motives, values etc involved in social actions. This means getting behind people’s actions, not just observing and recording what they do, but finding out why they do.
Interactionism focuses on small-scale interactions rather than on the social structure. The main concern is the way meanings are constructed through social interaction. The emphasis is on the way people have a degree of control and influence over social behaviour. Human behaviour is not simply some response to an external social structure.
· People define and interpret the world through the meanings they attach to it.
· “Reality” is therefore the reality they choose to see in the world – a subjective reality.
· The definitions/meanings people hold are constructed from and communicated in the form of symbols.
· Without this exchange of symbols social existence would be impossible. Social life is a constant stream of symbolic communication with meanings being constantly negotiated and re-negotiated.
· People can only do this by being able to “take the role of the other”- seeing our own actions through the eyes and minds of those we interact with.
· Individuals develop a concept of “self” through socialisation. This allows them to direct their own actions and to influence the actions of others.
· Social roles exist but they are not so fixed that individuals cannot re-negotiate and change them.
· Created the term “symbolic interactionism” because of the centrality of the notion of the exchange of meanings in small-scale interaction.
· Meanings develop from social interaction; they are not forced upon individuals who have to conform to outside pressures.
· Social systems approaches “reified” social life, giving them a structure they do not really have.
· Society is a more fluid process of constant social interaction.
· Notions of “structure” & “functions” are rejected.