Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism are all structural theories, are interested in ‘society as a whole’ and ask ‘societal level questions’ such as ‘what functions does education perform for society and the individual’? (Functionalism) or ‘why does injustice exist’ (Marxism and Feminism)?
Social Action Theory. Structuralism is a top-down, deterministic perspective that examines the way in which society as a whole fits together. Functionalism and Marxism are both structuralist perspectives: as such, they both perceive human activity as the result of social structure.
Social action is about people coming together to help improve their lives and solve the problems that are important in their communities. It can include volunteering, giving money, community action or simple neighbourly acts.
Max Weber’s Social Action Theory divided the types of social action into the 4 categories mentioned above: traditional social action, affective social action, rational social action with values and instrumental social action.
What is the difference between structural and action theories?
Structural theories take a macro approach to studying society, they look at society as a whole. Human society is shaped by social structures which direct individuals to behave in particular ways. Action theories see society as being constructed by individuals through social interaction.
Social action is people coming together to tackle an issue, support other people, or improve their local area. It involves people giving their time and other resources for the common good, in a range of forms – from volunteering to community-owned services, and peer networks to community organising.
“Action is Social” Weber says. According to Weber, it is action when man assigns a certain meaning to his conduct and the action is social when, by the meaning he gives it, it relates to the behaviour of other persons and is oriented towards their behaviour.
social structure, in sociology, the distinctive, stable arrangement of institutions whereby human beings in a society interact and live together. Social structure is often treated together with the concept of social change, which deals with the forces that change the social structure and the organization of society.
Max Weber defines social action: action is social 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.
Affective Social Action
While the first two types are dependent upon rational systems (goal-oriented and value-oriented), this is considered the most irrational social action as it is motivated by the emotion of the individual. No calculated decision of means and ends is made.
What is the structure theory?
Structural theories emphasize the power of society over the individual, and believe that the individual is largely controlled by society. The society exists within an individual as a set of norms and values, and this models the individual’s thoughts and guides their actions.
Four Models of Social Action
- Top Down – Big Aid.
- Bottom Up – Barefoot College.
- Online Social Action -Activism or Slacktivism.
- Social Entrepreneurship – “Good” Profit.
What is structural action?
A structural load or structural action is a force, deformation, or acceleration applied to structural elements. A load causes stress, deformation, and displacement in a structure. Structural analysis, a discipline in engineering, analyzes the effects loads on structures and structural elements.