Definition of Social Action
"From sociological point of view, this term has been specific for such actions of people who have more or less direct relation with other people."It means that with reference to such individuals who are present in the world or there is some relation with them but if an individual alone is looking at a scene or is meeting someone in a dream, this will be not an action. In the light of this explanation, the definition given by the sociologists will be easy to
1. Max Weber :
"Social action is such an external or internal activity of an individual to which he gives a subjective meaning."
2. Richardson :
"Doing something by participation in a social system of some individuals or individual is called a social action."
3. Tallcott Parsons :
"To do something by an individual with a settled objective, is called a social action."
4. "When an individual or more do something by expending their energy in a
specific social condition to attain an object under study, it is called a social
In the light of the above definitions, the five structural components of social action can be described :
1. Actor :
An actor is necessary for a social action because when a socialized individual does a thing with -own reference to other individual of a society that will be called a social action and if he keeps that to his own self only like dreaming, thinking or enjoying a scene then it will not be a social action.
2. Objective or Purpose Based :
A social action must be objective or purpose. based. The actions of mad or an idiot or insane people without any purpose or without any reference to society cannot be called as social actions.
3. Norms :
A social action should be according to the expectation and norms of the individual of a society, such an action is called social action. Where there is something not according to it, then that is not a social action like dreaming which has no social norms with no going against norms.
4. Social Situation :
Social action takes place in a social situation. An action occurring without any specific social situation is not a social action because of no importance and limited to only an individual's self. For example, smoking or drawing lines on earth or sitting on a place is not a social action.
5. Use of Power or Mean :
The use of power is a necessary thing for a social action. There may be different sources of power and more than one source of powers can be used for a social action at a time. Running a heavy stone, power is needed but if it is raised to be placed in a carriage for taking it to some other place, then a mechanical.
power along with physical power is required but a dream requires no power so that is not a social action.
Differences between social action and social interaction :Both social action and interaction are the basic structure of social life and without these, the concept of life is impossible. Every social interaction is a social action but every social action is not necessarily a social interaction. This shows that there are some differences between social action and social interaction. The
detail is given below:
1. Social interaction is a two-way action and needs two individuals, for occurring and they' should be face to face with each other whereas social action can be done by an individual but if two or more individuals are doing that action they need not to be face to face. For example, in a social action a driver drives a car when there is no one on the opposite side. Similarly, when two or more individuals are pushing the car, even then there is no concept of opponents.
2. In a social interaction, affecting each other is necessary just as a professor is lecturing a class. He is affecting the class whereas travelling in a bus is a social action. The driver and travelers seem to be opponent but since they do not influence each other and are doing their own social actions,
3. No norms are necessary in a social interaction. If two friends are gossiping, there is no need of any norm whereas when a driver is driving the bus, he is bound to abide by some norms of keeping the bus on the left
hand, to be a licensed driver, the bus will be registered one and traffic laws will observed,
4. Social interaction is the beginning point of life. It is concerned with two or more individuals becoming a group and group interaction makes societies and aims of social life are gained whereas in social life, social action is just like a soul and without it no concept of survival of social life can be done because it is also a source of getting some aim and may be an aim itself just as taking a stone on the way is a social action which has the aim of making the way clear and helping the traffic to continue smoothly may be an aim also.
5. A meaningful and an understandable mean of communications between two individuals is necessary in social interaction which can be language or understandable physical signs and movements. But in a social action, there is no need of such things just as many workers do their jobs silently in a factory for assembling parts. So there is social action but no social interaction.
6. A social action takes place in a specific social situation just as working in a factory is a specific condition. Reaching in a class is a social action whereas in social interaction, social situation is produced during this process just as two individuals start fighting on the way, the fight is a social situation that has been produced. When a juggler starts his show, people gather around him and seeing it is a social situation. In other words, social action is already presence of social situation whereas in social interaction, a social situation is created but social situation is necessary for both.
Social interaction is an important source of social relation and contacts. Individuals bring groups into existence and then inter-actor individuals gain aims through social actions. These aims can be common and conflicting. In the words of Horton and Hunt, "Social processes, refer to repetitive forms of behaviour,which are commonly found in the social life." (Sociology 1964)
Park and Burgess in their book "Individual to the Science of Sociology"(1921) had classified the social processes which are formal in all social groups and societies which is the following: cooperation, competition, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation.