action theory

Also found in: Wikipedia.

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 ?
Cohen's distinction is an important one, which has indeed been neglected, to the detriment of discussions in epistemology and action theory.
95--This volume collects thirteen papers by Robert Audi on action theory, all but two previously published, and dating back as far as the early 1970s.
In approaching his topic from the perspective of action theory he acknowledges that his project "fits so awkwardly into the traditional branches of philosophy, being neither aesthetics nor philosophy of action, neither philosophy of mind nor metaphysics" (p.
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.
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.
This can be explained convincingly by collective action theory, developed by Mancur Olsen.
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.
This work for scholars and advanced students draws on the framework of collective action theory to reveal the connection between collective action and human cognition.
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.
Frese (2009) indicated the importance of an action theory to help entrepreneurs adopt different steps in the active entrepreneurial action sequence in order to be successful.
This book, then, can be seen as an essay in evolutionary action theory, as it traces an incremental trajectory from individual to joint to collective agency, identifying at each stage the distinctive cognitive and social capacities newly in play.
The focus on "material culture", however, does not entail mainly discussions in the fields of anthropology or archaeology, but primarily on Action Theory and the philosophy of biology.