C&D - Social Action Theory (1)

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  • Social action theory is an anti postivist approach.
  • It argues that the subject matter of the natural sciences and the subject matter of sociology cannot be compared because people have consciousness - the ability to think and to be self aware.
  • Consciousness equips people with free will - intention and purpose - the ability to choose how to act or behave.
  • Consequently, social action theory argues that people are not parrt of some anonymous predictable mass.
  • Rather they are actually unique individuals with ways of seeing the world which are exclusive to them rather than shared with others.
  • Social action theories believe that individuals are more important than society which is merely the net sum of individual actions.
  • They argue that society and the social institutions that make it up are socially constructed.
  • This simply means that people choose to come together in social groups and to interact with one another.
  • However, this social interaction has purpose because people are equipped with a stock of interpretations or meanings which they use to make sense of their social reality - consequently, people know how to behave in most given situations and they know what is socially expected from the role they occupy in society, eg. mother, father, student, police officer, boy, girl etc.
  • Another way of understanding social action theory is to see the social world as a stage and members of society as social actors.
  • Each social situation that people encounter is a different scene in a drama production that includes every scene in a person's life.
  • However, all the social actors know their lines, where to stand etc. because just as actors learn their lines of dialogue, so social actors unconsciously…


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