Getting To Know Max Weber’s Theory Of Social Action

Young people this time we will discuss one of the popular theories in the scientific realm of sociology, namely the Theory of Social Action. This sociological theory becomes important to be reviewed when the condition of society is experiencing polarization due to the tsunami of information like now.

Social Action Theory is a theory that concentrates on motives and goals. With this theoretical approach we will be able to examine the behavior of a person or group in taking action. We certainly understand that all actions have different motives and goals and this is where the important starting point is to study this theory.

In sociology study, Social Action Theory is a theory coined by a modern sociologist, Max Weber. A person who has a big influence on the development of sociological studies. Weber’s influence can be seen through his masterpieces such as Basic Sociological Terms, The Types of Legitimate Domination, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Objectivity in Social Science, Economy and Society, Sociology of Religion, and Methodological Essays.

Some of Weber’s writings above had a significant impact on the scientific development of sociology. Weber’s thought criticized Marx’s thought which was very materialistic. For example about capitalism, Weber stated that it is not right for western civilization to be built from the ruins of religious values. He considered that religious values ​​were the foundation of the West in winning capitalism. This opinion can be read further in his work entitled The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Apart from criticizing, Weber also focuses on discussing ideas and values ​​which then become alternatives. Besides that, his writings are also a reference for other scientific treasures such as law, economics and politics.

Who is Max Weber?

Born in the city of Erfurt, Germany in a bourgeois family environment in 1864 to a bureaucrat named Max Weber Sr and mother Helene Fallenstein. Little Weber’s real name is Maximilian Karl Emil Weber and has a brother named Alfred. He lived for 56 years, died in Munich in 1920.

Weber’s interest in academia began when he entered Heidelberg University. Due to the political situation he had to leave Heidelberg in the 3rd semester for military service. In 1884 he returned to Berlin to continue his studies. Besides studying at Berlin Weber also studied at the University of Goettingen. In 1896, Weber was awarded the title of professor of economics at the University of Heidelberg .

In general, Weber’s thoughts have influenced the discourse of modernity and post-modernity a lot. In addition, his works became a reference for later sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Gidden.

Weber’s Theory of Sociology: Theory of Social Action

Social Action Theory is a theory that examines the motives and behavior of a human. A subjective approach to meaning that allows a person to be able to influence and accept the influence of others. Weber further stated that every individual action directed at another individual or group has a subjective meaning.

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On the other hand, Weber argues that the best way to understand various groups is to appreciate the typical forms of action that characterize them. As a result, we can understand the reasons why these community members act. In general, one of the goals of sociology is to deeply understand the subjective meaning of social actions taken by the individual.

This theory is useful for understanding the types of behavior and actions of each individual or group. By understanding the behavior of each individual or group, just as we have appreciated and understood their reasons for taking these actions.

In the context of the motives of the perpetrators Weber divides the theory of social action into four parts, namely traditional action, affective action, action of instrumental rationality and action of value rationality.

1.Traditional Actions are actions that are determined by habits that have been rooted from generation to generation. This action refers to actions that are based on tradition or actions that have been repeated since ancient times.

Weber considers traditional actions to be actions that do not go through rational thinking. Because this action is carried out spontaneously without going through thought, planning and consideration. The basis for this action is usually custom, a tradition passed down from generation to generation. This means that this traditional action is carried out repeatedly and is the same as before.

In the Indonesian context we can see an example of this traditional action from the homecoming phenomenon. That people who have migrated in big cities will carry out their homecoming to their hometowns during Eid. This means that whatever the community does on the basis of existing customs or traditions is a form of traditional action

2. Affective action is an action that is determined by the conditions and emotional orientations of the actor / actor. This action refers to actions that are based on individual feelings. Just like before, this action is also not done through rational thinking because the emotional impulse is stronger.

We need to understand that emisional is different from rational. Emotional prioritizes spontaneous reactions to what happens and is experienced, while rational prioritizes thought considerations.

This affective action can be seen from the phenomenon of crying during a funeral procession. This act of crying was spontaneous and just like that. Happy when you get a gift from your parents or lover. The two actions above include examples of affective action

3. Actions of Instrumental Rationality are actions aimed at achieving goals that are rationally calculated and pursued by the actor concerned. This action refers to actions that are based on the actor’s rationality in order to achieve certain goals.

This action is also called an instrumental action aimed because this action is carried out through efforts and efforts to achieve the expected goals. The word rational contains implicit logical and instrumental meanings to achieve goals. This means that this action is carried out through careful planning and prior consideration.

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We can see this phenomenon of rational action from the following examples. Because you want to go to college at 10 o’clock, you choose to ride a motorbike taxi instead of crazy because you don’t want to be late because you wake up late at 9:45. Choosing a motorbike taxi is an example of instrumental rational action because the choice of a motorcycle taxi is based on clear reasons so that you are on time.

4. Value Rationality Actions are rational actions based on values, which are carried out for reasons and purposes that are related to personally believed values ​​without taking into account the prospects associated with the success or failure of the action. This action refers to actions based on belief in certain values.

Of course, this action is through thinking rationally and caring out various kinds of values ​​that exist. This means that individuals who act prioritize what is considered good, normal, reasonable or right in society above individual goals. What is considered good can come from ethics, religion, or other forms of value sources.

We can see this act of value rationality from our choosing to wear trousers over shorts when praying. We choose to shake hands using the right hand rather than the left hand. Both decisions were made because of value considerations. If we don’t do this, we are considered unnatural or even considered insulting, resulting in rejection from the community.

Finally, understanding social action theory means understanding society interpretatively. This is where sociology can provide a causal explanation of social phenomena and this is one of the intellectual contributions of Max Weber in the scientific realm of sociology.

By understanding the four parts of the theory of social action above, we can analyze the symbolic meaning of actions taken by individuals. Then we are able to interpret, identify and clarify what types of social actions are carried out by individuals or groups.

Weber also stated that with the concept of subjective meaning, sociology can understand the orientation, motivation, and causes of actions taken by individuals even though these motives cannot be observed. Hopefully the young people today have the spirit to maintain their intellectuality by reading so that the analysis knife is sharp and organized. Hopefully!