SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource

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SociologyExchange.co.uk Shared Resource

  1. 1. Social Action Theories Micro Theories Anti-positivist This approach rejects the idea that social behaviour is constrained or a product of external forces over which they have no control. People are not puppets of society. Social action theorists argue that the attitudes and actions of others influence the way people think and behave. Society is a product of people interacting in social groups and making sense of their behaviour. They suggest norms and values are flexible guidelines. We apply meanings to social behaviour and are aware of how others see that behaviour and how we should act in a given situation.Social action theory Symbolic interactionism Phenomenology Ethnomethodology Structuration theory Mead Weber Husserl Blumer Labelling Goffman Schutz Garfinkel Giddens Structural and action approaches are both important to fully understand human behaviour. To get a full sociological explanation involves two levels: The level of cause and the level of meaning. (E.g. The introduction of Calvinism promoted to a strong work ethic which led to the rise in capitalism). He identified four types of action: Instrumentally rational action – where the actor calculates the most efficient means of achieving a given goal. Value rational action – action towards a goal which is desirable for its own sake (ie Believing in God to get to heaven) Traditional action – customs, habitual actions, which are often automatic Affectual action – action which expresses emotion. (Weber)
  2. 2. Social order is created from the bottom up, order and meaning are an accomplishment – something the membersactively construct in everyday life using commonsense knowledge. This makes EM different to interactionism as it isinterested not in the effects of the meanings but instead in now the meanings were produced in the first place.Meanings are potentially unclear – this is called indexicality – nothing has a fixed meaning it all depends on thecontext. Indexicality is a threat to social order because with meanings unstable, communication can break down.However we have reflexivity which allows us to construct a sense of meaning and order which stop indexicality fromhappening. Language is key to reflexivity as it allows us to remove uncertainty and give clear meanings. (Garfinkel)This combines both structure and action. There is a duality of structure which means both structure and action –rather like two sides of a coin. Neither can exist without the other. Our actions produce and reproduce structuresover time whilst these structures make our actions possible in the first place. He calls this structuration.I.e. language – is made up of rules of grammar which govern how we express meanings. To communicate we must obeyits rules (Structure) however if no one used the language (Action) then it would not exist.He suggests structure has two elements rules (norms and customs) and resources (economic and power). These can bereproduced or changed by human action, however we tend to reproduce them because they contain a stock ofknowledge about how to live our lives. Also because we need security which following rules gives us.However structure can change which happens when we ‘reflexively monitor’ own actions by reflecting on them andtheir results which can result in us choosing a new action. He suggests this change is more likely in modern societywhere tradition is less important. Our actions can also cause changes we did not expect. (Giddens)We create our world through actions and interactions, which are based on the meanings we give to situations.Our behaviour is not fixed / instinctive. We give meanings to the things which are important to us. We do this byattaching symbols to the world, the symbol represents something else. When something happens we go through aninterpretive phase before responding to it. This gives us a chance to choose an appropriate response. For example ifsomeone shakes their fist at someone the person will think about the meaning of the symbol – is the fist shaker angryor joking. We work out the meanings by taking the role of the other – which is an ability which develops throughsocial interaction. To function in society we must be able to see ourselves as others do which then helps us sharesymbols and language and to act as others require us to. (Mead)We share categories and concepts with other members of society and these shared categories are calledtypifications. These allow us to organise our experiences into a shared world of meaning.The meaning of an experience comes from its social context. This makes meanings unclear and unstable.Typifications allow us to stabilise meanings and make sure we agree on the meanings of things, which makes itpossible for us to cooperate and communicate. Without typifications social order would be impossible.Member sin society have a shared ‘life world’ – shared typifications which help us make sense of our experiences – hecalls this ‘recipe knowledge’. (Commonsense knowledge).However society appears to be real and objective which leads us to adopt the ‘natural attitude’ that the social worldis real. (Schutz)The key concepts which underpin this theory are:The definition of the situation – its ‘label’ – if people define a situation as real it will have real consequences. So ifwe believe something to be true, then this belief affects how we act and therefore has consequences.The looking glass self (Cooley – 1922) - self-concept comes from our ability to take the role of the other. Thisallows us to see ourselves as they see us. So others act as a looking glass mirroring our actions. This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy – we become as others see us. Our label becomes part of our self-concept.Career (Becker – 1963) – suggested our career is our membership of a group. Being part of this group can give usstatus in the eyes of society. (Labelling)
  3. 3. There are three key principles to actions: 1) Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations and are not instinctive like those of animals. 2) These meanings come from the interaction process, they are not fixed but are changeable to an extent. 3) The meanings we give to situations are dependant on the interpretive process we use –especially taking on the role of the other.Action is partly predictable as we internalise the expectations of others, however it is not completely fixed andtheir is room for personal choice. (Blumer)We can never have definite knowledge of what the world outside our minds is really like – only what our senses tellus about it.The world only makes sense because we classify and file information into mental categories. We can only getknowledge through this process of categorising. (Husserl)We actively ‘construct’ ourselves though manipulating other peoples impressions of us. This is referred to as thedramaturgical model as he uses the analogy of drama to analyse social interaction. We are actors, with scripts anduse props with the aim of giving a convincing performance.We seek to controled the presentation of self – so give people a particular impression of us. To do this we mustcontrol the impression our performance gives. (Impression management).This approach suggests that there is a front stage where we act out our roles and a backstage where we can beourselves. This also suggests we can play roles that we don’t really believe in - like a confidence trickster we canmanipulate others views of us. (Goffman)
  4. 4. There are three key principles to actions: 1) Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations and are not instinctive like those of animals. 2) These meanings come from the interaction process, they are not fixed but are changeable to an extent. 3) The meanings we give to situations are dependant on the interpretive process we use –especially taking on the role of the other.Action is partly predictable as we internalise the expectations of others, however it is not completely fixed andtheir is room for personal choice. (Blumer)We can never have definite knowledge of what the world outside our minds is really like – only what our senses tellus about it.The world only makes sense because we classify and file information into mental categories. We can only getknowledge through this process of categorising. (Husserl)We actively ‘construct’ ourselves though manipulating other peoples impressions of us. This is referred to as thedramaturgical model as he uses the analogy of drama to analyse social interaction. We are actors, with scripts anduse props with the aim of giving a convincing performance.We seek to controled the presentation of self – so give people a particular impression of us. To do this we mustcontrol the impression our performance gives. (Impression management).This approach suggests that there is a front stage where we act out our roles and a backstage where we can beourselves. This also suggests we can play roles that we don’t really believe in - like a confidence trickster we canmanipulate others views of us. (Goffman)
  5. 5. There are three key principles to actions: 1) Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations and are not instinctive like those of animals. 2) These meanings come from the interaction process, they are not fixed but are changeable to an extent. 3) The meanings we give to situations are dependant on the interpretive process we use –especially taking on the role of the other.Action is partly predictable as we internalise the expectations of others, however it is not completely fixed andtheir is room for personal choice. (Blumer)We can never have definite knowledge of what the world outside our minds is really like – only what our senses tellus about it.The world only makes sense because we classify and file information into mental categories. We can only getknowledge through this process of categorising. (Husserl)We actively ‘construct’ ourselves though manipulating other peoples impressions of us. This is referred to as thedramaturgical model as he uses the analogy of drama to analyse social interaction. We are actors, with scripts anduse props with the aim of giving a convincing performance.We seek to controled the presentation of self – so give people a particular impression of us. To do this we mustcontrol the impression our performance gives. (Impression management).This approach suggests that there is a front stage where we act out our roles and a backstage where we can beourselves. This also suggests we can play roles that we don’t really believe in - like a confidence trickster we canmanipulate others views of us. (Goffman)
  6. 6. There are three key principles to actions: 1) Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations and are not instinctive like those of animals. 2) These meanings come from the interaction process, they are not fixed but are changeable to an extent. 3) The meanings we give to situations are dependant on the interpretive process we use –especially taking on the role of the other.Action is partly predictable as we internalise the expectations of others, however it is not completely fixed andtheir is room for personal choice. (Blumer)We can never have definite knowledge of what the world outside our minds is really like – only what our senses tellus about it.The world only makes sense because we classify and file information into mental categories. We can only getknowledge through this process of categorising. (Husserl)We actively ‘construct’ ourselves though manipulating other peoples impressions of us. This is referred to as thedramaturgical model as he uses the analogy of drama to analyse social interaction. We are actors, with scripts anduse props with the aim of giving a convincing performance.We seek to controled the presentation of self – so give people a particular impression of us. To do this we mustcontrol the impression our performance gives. (Impression management).This approach suggests that there is a front stage where we act out our roles and a backstage where we can beourselves. This also suggests we can play roles that we don’t really believe in - like a confidence trickster we canmanipulate others views of us. (Goffman)

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