Sociology Index


Action theory is a sociological perspective that focuses on the individual as a subject. Action theory views social action as something purposively shaped by individuals within a context to which they have given meaning. Action theory approach has its foundations in Max Weber's interpretive theory, 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. Sociologists who focus on Action Theory tend to treat the individual as an autonomous subject, rather than as constrained by social structure and culture.

In action theory, the individual is seen as exercising agency, giving meaning to objects and events and acting with intent. 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 behavior. Social action theory is a good pointer into the understanding the thoughts in management, most especially production management.


The Creativity of Action. - Joas, Hans. Translated by Jeremy Gaines and Paul Keast.
Hans Joas is one of the foremost social theorists in Germany. Based on Joas's celebrated study of George Herbert Mead, this work reevaluates the contribution of American pragmatism and European philosophical anthropology to action theory in the social sciences. Joas elaborates some implications of his model for theories of social movement and activism and social change and for the status of action theory in sociology in the face of competition from theories advanced by Luhmann and Jurgen Habermas.

Rational action theory for sociology. John H. Goldthorpe.
Abstract: Rational action theory is not a highly unified intellectual entity. Varieties of rational action theory are distinguished in terms of three criteria: i.e. according to whether they (i) have strong rather than weak rationality requirements; (ii) focus on situational rather than procedural rationality; (iii) claim to provide a general rather than a special theory of action.

Management Thoughts: The Review of Social Action Theory
Godwin Oyedokun, Abstract: Sociology is not confined to study of social action alone; it studies certain other factors as well. The basic fact is that social action is that action that is social in nature and in so far as by virtue of the subjective meaning attached to it by acting individual, it takes account of the behaviour of others and is thereby oriented in its course. This study assessed the social action theory with respect to the four factors underpinning the theory. Social action theory gives researchers better understanding of actions behind human behaviour, which may be traditional, affective, value or rational.

Application of the social action theory to understand factors associated with risky sexual behavior among individuals in residential substance abuse treatment. Reynolds EK, Magidson JF, Bornovalova MA, Gwadz M, Ewart CK, Daughters SB, Lejuez CW.
Abstract: Using the social action theory, an integrative systems model of sociocognitive, motivational, and environmental influences, as a guiding framework, the current study examined (1) environmental influences, (2) psychopathology and affect, (3) HIV-related attitudes and knowledge, and (4) self-regulatory skills/deficits as factors associated with event-level condom use (CU) among a sample of 156 substance users residing at a residential substance abuse treatment center (M age = 41.85; SD = 8.59; 75% male).