Action Theories - Theory and methods
This is not a structural theory. Action theories focus on individual behaviour in everyday social situations. This is a bottom up approach – looking at meanings and interpretations of actions. There are many branches of action theories; Symbolic interactionism, Labelling theory, Dramturgical model, Phenomenology, Ethnomethodology, Structuration theory and Webe’rs integrated approaches
1. Society and social structures/ institutions are socially constructed (family does not exist externally to our daily lives)
2. People have free will to do things and form their own identities
3. Prefer to research on small groups of ...view middle of the document...
They call this the ’Generalised other’.
Herbert Blumer – 3 Key Principals of Interaction
1. Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations, they are not automatic responses
2. The meanings we have arise from interactions and to some extent we can change and negotiate them
3. The meanings we give to things are mainly to result of taking the role of the other
Blumer argues that although our actions are based on meanings we give to a situations, people are sort of predictable because we internalise expectations of them. However there is still free choice in how we do things.
This theory has 3 key concepts
1. Definition of the situation- defining something gives a label to it. If we believe something is true it will affect how we act and affects those involved.
2. Looking glass self; Cooley argues our concept of self arises out of the interactions with others.
3. Career – this applies to the stages through which an individual progresses in their occupation, but this also can be a deviant career .
Goffman’s Dramaturgical model
Some labelling theorist say that we construct ourselves through how other labels us, however Goffman believes that we actively manipulate others view of us in order to create our own self-construct. He uses an analogy of drama to aid this
“We are social actors with scripts using props to give a convincing performance. If we want to create an impression of ourselves we need to control the impressions”
1. Presentation of self and impression management: In order to create an impression we use techniques which include - tone of voice, gesture, props and dress, make up, décor and premises
2. There is a role difference between our real self and our roles, which is only slightly constrained by the society and mostly controlled by our own free will. For instance some teachers are really strict, whereas some are laid back. Sometimes we may not believe our roles, we just put it on to manipulate others.
Phenomenology – Schutz
The world only makes sense to us because we impose meaning and order on it, and our shared meanings help create this. This means society is a product of our collective attempt to find meaning and to understand it
Schutz argues that we share concepts and categories with members of society, and these are called ’Typifications’ and they enable us to understand and organise our experiences into a shared world of meaning. The meaning of any action depends on the context. For example, dancing is only appropriate behavior in some contexts, in others it might be a sign of madness.
Schutz says that the society is just a creation of our mind, it is simply shared meanings that allows us to cooperate and achieve goals.
-Berger and Luckman argue that although life is socially constructed – once constructed it has a life of its own and it becomes and external phenomenon that has an affect on us. E.g. Religion may start in people’s consciousness...