Social action or interpretivist theories (Basics (There are 5 main…
Social action or interpretivist theories
(1863-1931) is the founder of symbolic interactionism, although Blumer (1969) was the first person to use it.
Interactionism has 3 basic functions :red_flag:
People act in terms of symbols, which are things, like objects, words, expressions or gestures, that stand for something else and to which individuals attach meanings
These meaning develop out of the interaction of an individual with others, and can change during the course of interaction.
Meanings arise from an interpretive process, as people try to interpret meanings others give to their actions by imagining themselves in their position and taking on their role.
The 'looking glass self'
(1998) - refers to the idea that our image of ourselves is reflected back to us in the views of others.
"I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think you think I am."
(1963) the dramaturgical model - society is like a stage, with people acting out performances, to manage the impressions they give to other people by putting on a 'show' to try and convince others of the identities they wish to assert.
Symbols, such as clothing, music etc. are used to demonstrate what person they want to be seen as.
(1967) - refers to the methods used to find out how social order is achieved. It rejects the idea that there is any social structure, social order, or patterned interaction that exists outside of the individuals consciousness.
Social order is an illusion, and only appears to exist because people create it in their own minds and impose a sense of order using their own common sense procedures and assumptions; society only retains some semblance of stability and order because people share these assumptions.
Emphasise the free will and choice of individuals and their role in creating the social structure.
The interactions between individuals or small groups and how people come to interpret and see things as they do.
There are 5 main features:
An emphasis is placed on the voluntarism, or free will and choice.
The focus of sociological research is placed on the individual rather than the overall structure of society.
Institutions are social constructions of individuals.
Peoples behaviour is viewed as being driven by the beliefs, meanings, feelings and emotions they give to situations: their definitions of a situation, or the way they see things and therefore behave, become very important.
Interpretivism is the main methodological approach, as the purpose of sociology is to study, uncover and interpret meanings and definitions individuals give to their behaviour. Therefore seeing the world through the eyes of those they are studying.
(1904) - Verstehen
Lyotard (1984) & Baudrilard (2001)
- society is rapidly changing and full of uncertainties, with people questioning a whole range of traditionally accepted norms and values.
No longer constrained by social structures, like the family, and are rejected ideas about the traditionally family as a mainstay of social order
Society = fragmented
2 key features of postmodern society
Gernshiem (2002) & Stacey (1996)
- argue people no longer feel bound by traditional values and expectations.
Increasing divorce rates, cohabitation, multiple partners, serial monogamy and births outside of marriage
'Family of choice'
'Mix n match' relationships
Personal Lives Perspective
The Individualisation Thesis
Confluent Love & The 'Pure Relationship'
All You Need Is Love
It does't pay attention to the structures of society, and the constraints that come from social institutions. Structures differences in life chances are real, e.g. poverty is a real phenoma affecting peoples opportunity.
It doesnt really explain people motivations- the reasons for what they do, and what they hope to achieve by their actions
It ignores the distribution of power in society
PM would suggest that action theory is as much a metanarrative as any other theory.
The interpretivist approach and use of qualitative methods have high levels of validity.
It provides real insights into how the social construction of meanings though interaction has consequences for individual.
It recognises that it is necessary to understand the motivations and meanings people attach to their behaviour, and how these are shared with others through everyday interactions.
Overcomes the issue of determinism, by focusing on the creative role of individuals.
It shows how humans create and negotiate meanings, and make sense of the world through interaction with others (symbolic) or by drawing on their own common sense understandings (ethnomedology).