Max Weber, one of the most influential German sociologists, defined sociology as the science of social actions. It means any action in relation to other social affairs and other social actions. Max Weber himself differentiated such actions by given apt examples. A driver driving a car is performing a social action, however, a student reading a book is not performing a social action. From the former example, it has been learned that the car driver is performing a social action because his driving affects other, while the student has no social effect or social relation with other, therefore, he is not performing a social action.
The trait of being social is due to the effect one has on other social beings. Thus, social action is such an attempt in which one or more persons, belonging to some social system, participate. In social action, the actor acts in the presence of some social situation. Social action invites the attention of the actor towards action. When one or more persons are involved in the action in presence of social situation is also called the social action.
Elements of Social Action:
Talcott Parsons, a famous American sociologist, has given five basic elements of social action.
- The Actor: it is the individual who performs an act. The actor can be one or more persons.
- The Goal: it is the aim or objective of the action which was done. Without a set goal, any action would be futile and baseless.
- Social Situation: the social situation is a continuously occurring group event spread in time and space. The actor performs his role in the presence of some social situation. The social situation instigates the actor on action, and to control the situation he has to act accordingly. Therefore, a social situation is the agent of any particular social action.
- Normative Orientation: the social action is mainly performed on some particular social custom or pattern. The particular set of pattern, ideas, customs, or a particular society are known as the norms of the society. Every action is by nature oriented on the basis of particular norms.
- Energy: A social action requires energy for its performance. Physical energy and training are essential for an act.
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