Assess the contribution of social action theory to our understanding of how society operates

1017 WordsMar 24, 20145 Pages
For years, social action theorists have sought out to understand how society operates. Unlike structuralists for example Marxists, action theorists are a micro level approach where they find the study of the individual and their interactions within society more important to our understanding. Action theorists are more voluntaristic, they believe that individuals possess agency where they have the ability to be free agents in themselves and in shaping society. Max Weber is well known within sociology as one of the founding fathers. He believes that over-generalisation should be avoided as much as possible and we should understand human action, hence ‘social action theory’. Weber contributed four ideal types that should be used to study…show more content…
Other critics such as Ethnomethodologists argue that interactionists fail to explain how actors create the meanings of the symbols. Phenomenologists like Ethnomethodologists believe there is not social structure out there but it is a social construct made by the individuals. Phenomenologist, Husserl argues that the society we live in is a product of our mind because we get information from mental acts that are categories we use to group information and give them meaning. Schutz uses this idea and argues it applies to how people share them in society. Using the term typification Schutz, explains how people have shared meanings of particular social contexts. These are agreed upon to stabilise and clarify within a social interaction as commonsense knowledge and without these social order would not be possible. Luckmann argues against Schutz rejecting his view that society is only an inter-subjective reality. Luckmann points out that Schutz sees all of society socially constructed by individuals that create the society which then takes on a life of its own. Luckman sees Schutz as failing to see the the structures in society that constrain us to become an individual in society, for example laws in the Catholic Church about homosexual relations. Ethnomethodology (EM), like all action theorists discussed use a micro approach, and it

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