[ home | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z || help | about ]

A sociological perspective that focuses on the individual as a subject and views social action as something purposively shaped by individuals within a context to which they have given meaning. This approach has its foundations in Max Weber's (1864-1920) ‘interpretive sociology’ which claims that it is necessary to know the subjective purpose and intent of the actor before an observer can understand the meaning of social action. Those sociologists who focus on ‘action’ tend to treat the individual as an autonomous subject, rather than as constrained by social structure and culture. As a subject, the individual is seen as exercising agency, voluntarism, giving meaning to objects and events and acting with intent. While Max Weber insisted on the power of society and historical context in giving shape to human action, some sociologists adopting action theory have been accused of neglecting the influence of social structure and culture on people's behaviour.

Last updated 2002--0-9-

[ home | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z || help | about ]

Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
The online version of this dictionary is a product of
Athabasca University and

*This social science dictionary has 1000
entries covering the disciplines of sociology, criminology, political
science and women's study with a commitment to Canadian examples and
events and names