Assess the contribution of Social Action Theory to sociology

Topics: Sociology, Psychology, Family Pages: 3 (941 words) Published: December 2, 2013
Assess the contribution of Social Action Theory to sociology:

Social Action Theorists, or Interactionists are also known as micro sociologists, this is because instead of looking at the bigger picture in society, and how the large structures and institutions such as the education and judiciary systems affect individuals, which is what Marxists and Functionalists (macro sociologists) look at, Social Action Theorists look at the opposite, how us, individuals, act by our own accord, and how we make up society. This is known as a ‘bottom up’ view of society. They see people as having a much more active role in society, as opposed to the passive puppets that Structuralists make us out to be. They reject the view that our behaviour is the product of these organisations and structure.

Although Social Action Theorists do look very much as individual behaviour, they also take into account the fact that we are aware of the people around us, they argue that our behaviour is influenced by how other individuals react to us and behave, so society is made up because people come together and interact. We are able to react to each other’s behaviour in this way because we have learnt how to expect what people should and shouldn’t do, and how to interpret behaviour. We have meanings for various symbols during interactions, for example, someone frowning may show confusion or anger, and someone swearing with a hand gesture may be insulting, because of these codes and symbols, we are able to anticipate behaviour, and judge how people are feeling. This also gives us a knowledge about what behaviour is and isn’t appropriate in certain situations. These different situations can also affect how we behave and what behaviour is acceptable, for example shouting and swearing may be seen as acceptable at a football match, but this would be highly inappropriate in the middle of a supermarket or library.

These behaviours and expected ways of carrying ourselves, or norms and values,...
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