action theory


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action theory

a general orientation to sociological analysis particularly associated with the work of WEBER and the SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISTS (see also ETHNOMETHODOLOGY). The aim of the approach is the MEANINGFUL UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLANATION of social reality, which is seen as the outcome of purposive social action. See ACT, ACTION, VERSTEHEN, INTERPRETATIVE SOCIOLOGY.

While all action theorists regard explanation with reference to actors' meanings (purposes, values, etc.) as an essential first step in sociological explanations, this is seen by some (notably P. WINCH, 1958) as removing all possibility of more general explanations. For most sociologists, including Weber, meaningful explanation and other types of EXPLANATION are complementary forms. See also STRUCTURATION THEORY.

Although it is sometimes suggested that action theory is ‘irredeemably individualistic’, this is only so in some cases (e.g. METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM).

That the contrary can be true is illustrated by the work of Weber (especially his comparative studies of European and Asiatic religions). Nevertheless, there remain significant differences between ‘action theory’ and other more avowedly STRUCTURALIST approaches in sociological theory, for example in the degree of VOLUNTARISM or independent AGENCY seen for social actors.

References in periodicals archive ?
The construction of communicative teacher-student relationship in secondary vocational schools--based on the communicative action theory of Habermas.
The language is based on an underlying action theory expressed in the situation calculus.
Calvo highlights evolutionary game theory (43-46), neural game theory (46-51), socio-biology (56-62), evolutionary economics (62-68), humanistic economics (69-74), communicative action theory (79-82), reciprocal recognition theory (83-88), evolutionary anthropology (93-98) and child psychology (107-110).
The Synergy in Social Action Theory consists of three key elements.
A growing number of authors argue that anti-corruption efforts have not worked because they are based on inadequate theory, suggesting that collective action theory offers a better understanding of corruption than the principal-agent theory usually used.
I have further initiated the development of a new theory--called Cognitive Action Theory CAT--of physics based upon action flow through objective and subjective phases of a self-explanatory measurement cycle in time (Baer 2015a, 2016).
We take as a starting point the Social Action Theory elaborated by Max Weber, author who calls us to investigate human conduct, as evidenced in diverse societies.
According to collective action theory, political action by special interest groups created by the minority sustains protectionist trade policies.
This article gives a theoretical and empirical outline of the development of morality, especially for the explanation of crime involvement in context of Situational Action Theory (SAT; e.g.
In sections on Mesoamerican cases, Old World cases, and cross-cultural studies, they consider such topics as alternative pathways to power in formative Oaxaca, central precinct plaza replication and corporate groups in Mesoamerica, the Bakitara (Banyoro) of Uganda and collective action theory, cognitive codes and collective action at Mari and the Indus, and framing the rise and variability of past complex societies.
In terms of specific arguments and claims, Lango's use of philosophical action theory is really interesting and potentially useful; however, he needed to develop it in a more accessible and streamlined way so readers could see how it was integrated into the overall argument.