What is Social Action Theory? Part 1: Weber

Published on 12th November 2016 by

What is Social Action Theory? Part 1: Max Weber Social Action Theory

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There are some key differences between structural and action theories. Structural theories are macro or large scale, are deterministic, and claim that people are almost like passive puppets at the mercy of social structures.

By contrast, action theories are micro theories, which look at small-scale interactions. These theories are voluntaristic, as they believe we possess agency and free will.

Arguably the most important action theories are:

• Weber’s social action theory
• Symbolic interactionism
• Phenomenology
• Ethnomethodology

Max Weber’s (1864-1920) social action theory wished to combine an understanding of structure and action and the result of these on behaviour. Find out more watching the video.

The different types of Action

Though action may have infinite meanings, Weber tries to classify meanings into four types.

Learn more about other sociological theories such as Functionalism and Feminism.


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