Assess the Usefulness of Micro Sociology to Our Understanding of Society

1104 Words5 Pages
Assess the Usefulness of Micro Sociology to Our Understanding of Society Assess the usefulness of micro sociology to our understanding of society (33marks) Micro sociology focuses on the actions and interactions of individuals and is a bottom-up approach. Such micro approaches, see society as shaped by its members, who possess agency, in other words, the ability to act as free agents. Micro approaches, also known as action theories, include social action theory, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology and ethnomethodoly. However, macro sociologists take a deterministic approach, as they believe that our actions are determined by society. Macro theories include Functionalism and Marxism, who see individuals as puppets, under the control of social structures. One micro approach to sociology is Weber’s social action theory. According to Weber, in order to understand human behaviour, we must take into account both the level of structural cause, and the level of subjective meaning that individuals attach to their actions. Weber argues that there are an infinite number of subjective meanings that actors give to their actions; however he attempts to classify actions into four types. Instrumentally rational action refers to action that is driven by a given goal, in order to achieve through the most efficient means. Value rational action involves action towards a goal that the actor regards as desirable, for example worshipping god in order to get to heaven. Unlike instrumentally rational action, there is no way of calculating whether the means of achieving the goal are effective. Traditional action involves habitual or routine actions. Weber argues that this type of action is not rational as no conscious thought has gone into it. Finally affectual action refers to any action that expresses emotion, for example an act of violence provoked by anger. Weber notes that
Open Document