types of social action
types of social actionthe four IDEAL TYPES of social action identified by Max WEBER:
- zweckrational or instrumental action (as in models of‘rational economic action’ developed within economics), where the actor weights the relative efficiency of different available means to an end, and sometimes also the ends themselves, seeking to maximize benefits;
- wertrational action or value rationality, where the relative effectiveness of alternative means to an end may be assessed but the ends are accepted as given, perhaps as a moral imperative, as in the PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC;
- affectual action, where action is governed by emotion;
- traditional action, where action is governed by customary or habitual practice.
Weber's idealized typology, which states other forms of action as departures from the zweckrational type, is intended to provide a bench mark for the analysis of concrete actions and for comparing societies, and has been widely used in sociology As well as the four pure types, Weber also allowed for ‘mixed types’ of action. Nonetheless, the criticism is made that in using his typology Weber failed to give adequate credence to systematization of'substantive rationality’ as against the ‘formal’ (i.e. ‘formal calculable’) form of rationality, despite his reservations about the narrow operation of the latter (see FORMAL and SUBSTANTIVE RATIONALITY). See also RATIONALITY, BUREAUCRACY.