social action v social structure

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Jill Hehir        SOCIOLOGY

Social Action

The Social Action theorist’s view point is that the individual is able to control his or her own actions, make choices and behave in a way they choose to rather then being controlled by society. This does not mean the individual will ignore the social norms and values it means they will interpret them in there own way. Social action theorists believe that individuals judge and interprets the situation and then acts on these things.  


Social action theory’s look at small scale situations but it could be argued that as we have meetings and exchanges in small scale situations with various people over the day it is important to helping us from our character and social identity. Symbolic interactionism is also something which we do in everyday life; we are always trying to interpret what is going on around us and how we fit into it. We act on our view and interpretation of the situation and sometimes it’s wrong. It could be argued all people have free will to make decisions in life but to the extent they practice it is dependent on how happy they are with the situation they are in.

Social Systems

From the social Structure theorists’ view point is that the individual is controlled by society, Society is moulding us to conform to different groups and once we have we take on there norms, values and behaviour to fit in. The individual is shaped by social structure we live by the rules and norms of society. Within Social Systems theory there are conflict and consensus theories:


Consensus theorists believe that society’s primary characteristic is Agreement. The many parts that make up our society need to work together in agreement with each other. People learn norms, values and behaviour through the socialisation process. This is a way of conditioning a child into what is acceptable.  All these things help to maintain social order.

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It could be argued that the consensus view is flawed because it does not take into account a persons free will. But it can also be seen that Society does have to work together to run smoothly, people need to co-operate and come to agreement on everything in life from companies doing business transactions to all drivers following the same rules of the road. If everyone who drove a car decided to do what they wanted then it would be chaos. It could be argued that to a certain extent the majority of people conform to society’s norms’ ...

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