Social actions

In sociology,[1] social action, also known as "Weberian social action", refers to an act which takes into account the actions and reactions of individuals (or 'agents'). According to Max Weber, "an Action is 'social' if the acting individual takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course".

Max Weber

The basic concept was primarily developed in the non-positivist theory of Max Weber to observe how human behaviors relate to cause and effect in the social realm. For Weber, sociology is the study of society and behavior and must therefore look at the heart of interaction. The theory of social action, more than structural functionalist positions, accepts and assumes that humans vary their actions according to social contexts and how it will affect other people; when a potential reaction is not desirable, the action is modified accordingly. Action can mean either a basic action (one that has a meaning) or an advanced social action, which not only has a meaning but is directed at other actors and causes action (or, perhaps, inaction).

[Sociology is] ... the science whose object is to interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which the action proceeds and the effects which it produces. By 'action' in this definition is meant the human behavior when and to the extent that the agent or agents see it as subjectively meaningful ... the meaning to which we refer may be either (a) the meaning actually intended either by an individual agent on a particular historical occasion or by a number of agents on an approximate average in a given set of cases, or (b) the meaning attributed to the agent or agents, as types, in a pure type constructed in the abstract. In neither case is the 'meaning' to be thought of as somehow objectively 'correct' or 'true' by some metaphysical criterion. This is the difference between the empirical sciences of action, such as sociology and history, and any kind of priori discipline, such as jurisprudence, logic, ethics, or aesthetics whose aim is to extract from their subject-matter 'correct' or 'valid' meaning.

— Max Weber The Nature of Social Action 1922, [2]

The term is more practical and encompassing than Florian Znaniecki's "social phenomena", since the individual performing social action is not passive, but rather active and reactive. Although Weber himself used the word 'agency', in modern social science this term is often appropriated with a given acceptance of Weberian conceptions of social action, unless a work intends to make the direct allusion. Similarly, 'reflexivity' is commonly used as a shorthand to refer to the circular relationship of cause and effect between structure and agency which Weber was integral in hypothesising.

Other Languages
català: Acció social
español: Acción social
Esperanto: Socia agado
Bahasa Indonesia: Tindakan sosial
Nederlands: Handelen
日本語: 社会的行為
português: Ação social
српски / srpski: Друштвена акција
українська: Соціальна дія
Tiếng Việt: Hành động xã hội
中文: 社会行动