Social Action theories

  • Created by: shelleyc
  • Created on: 01-06-15 16:16

Social action theories = micro, bottom up approaches to society. See society as constructed by individuals. All social action theories emphasize action and interaction - but differ in the extent to which they believe structural factors can influence behaivour.

Weber - founding father

  • both structural and action approaches are both important - the level of cause and the level of meaning
  • identified 4 types of action - 1) instrumentally rational action - calculating the most efficient means of acheiving goals. 2) value-action - towards desirable goals - e.g. believing in God to get into heaven. 3) traditonal action - customs, habitual, often automatic. 4) affectional - action that expresses emotion.
  • aim of sociological investigation should be to gain meanings, motivations and gain verstehen
  • AO2 - too individualistic - can't explain shared meanings and why people understand things in different contexts - e.g. raising an arm in a classroom has a different meaning to raising an arm at an auction. Lee and Newby - describe weber as a methodological indvidualistic 

Symbolic interactionists

  • believe we creae meanings through our interactions with others - we put ourselves in their shoes. the meanings given are not fixed - they are negotiable.
  • Goffman - we actively 'construct' though manipulating other people's impressions of us - dramaturgical model - we are actors with scripts and props with the aim of giving a convincing performanc - seek to control the presentation of self - must control the impression our performance gives. there is a front stage where we act our roles and a back stage where we can be ourselves. we can play roles we don't believe in
  • Cooley - the looking glass self - we define our identity by taking the role of the other - alows us to see ourselves as others see us - others act as a looking glass mirroring our actions - leads to a SFP as we becomme


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