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.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in classic literature ?
The introduction of these philosophical phrases at the back of the French historical criticisms they dubbed "Philosophy of Action," "True Socialism," "German Science of Socialism," "Philosophical Foundation of Socialism," and so on.
Malpas assembles and introduces 15 essays by American philosopher Stoutland (1933-2011) on what what philosophers should know about truth and the slingshot, Wittgenstein on certainty and truth, Putnam on truth, whether we need truth, making true, a mistaken view of Davidson's legacy: reading Lepore and Ludwig, Davidson and Dewey: a critical comparison, common sense psychology and physical science, philosophy of mind with and against Wittgenstein, the ontology of social agency, Searle's consciousness, self and society in the claims of individualism, interpreting Davidson's philosophy of action, the problems of congruence, and analytic philosophy and metaphysics.
"What these students learned, what was so inspirational to watch over the eight weeks, seeing how much more engaged they became, is that SUCCESS for Teens demonstrates how to create a philosophy of action and attitude, discover what matters most in life, deal with challenges and obstacles, and learn new ways of thinking so they can make the wisest choices at home, school and at work," Ramdhanie says.
"We at the NBU have recognised that obtaining appointment to parish and community councils is both a symbolic, and practically necessary, starting point in the pursuit of this philosophy of action.
They urged youth to follow into the footprints of Allama Iqbal and his philosophy of action for facing modern day challenges.
The philosophy of action is that no one else is the giver of peace or happiness.
Although it is primarily a work of analytic metaphysics, it touches on topics of interest to, or has interesting implications for, philosophers working in aesthetics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of biology, political philosophy, philosophical theology, and the philosophy of action. Aside from some occasional but very dense forays into analytic metaphysics--for which only the specialist will have the required patience--the prose makes for delightful reading and Evnine's arguments are easy to follow.
Al Falasi added that the foundation always seeks to be the mirror that reflects the government's philosophy of action and interaction between leadership and society.
The Sense and Conception of Being, Bugbee observed, "left man out of the account, and, in so doing, [fell] short of a philosophy of action" (5).
What Massumi does very well is translate a philosophy of action into epistemological methods.
Volume I is titled From the religion of love to the philosophy of action (1814-1848) and consists of the following: Growing up (1814-1825), Moscow (1836-1840), Germany (1840-1842), A Farewell to Philosophy (1843-1844), and The Birth of a Revolutionary (1844-1848).

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