Tag Archives: social action

Blog #3 Simmel and Sociability

I recall many times where I would find myself in an almost meaningless conversation with someone, typically a stranger and I never would have thought that someone would have studied that type of interaction.  The simple social interaction seems so minuscule and almost pointless that it’s rather shocking to realize that there is so much behind the concept.  Simmel uses the term sociability to categorize the interactions among people, specifically, interacting with others for the sake of the connection itself and not having any significance or ulterior motive.  It makes you wonder about all the past interactions you’ve had and seeing which ones fit into Simmel’s definition of sociability.  It makes you question every social interaction, maybe even as far as to question some social structures that we have in place today.  Why not after all?  Simmel questioned something that many of us may not even deem as near important.  Simmel seems to indirectly push us to want to ask why something is the way it is, no matter how basic.  At least I find myself asking that question.


Blog #3-Weber

I believe that each of Max Weber’s different types of social action is valid because all individuals go about their lives acting in certain ways for different reasons. Some people act on emotion, others do it for the sole purpose of achieving a certain goal, others do it because of a strong belief or value, and others do it because of tradition. One single individual may incorporate all different types of social action into his or her life, depending on the specific circumstance.

The type of social action that really speaks to me is traditional because as I was focusing on these four types of social action, I realized that so many of my own actions come from a source of tradition. By this I mean that I do not necessarily think about why I am doing certain actions; I just do it because that is the only way I know; it is tradition. As a modern orthodox Jew, so much of my life revolves around tradition. When I am performing an act connected to Judaism I do not necessarily stop to think about why I am doing it, whether it is rational, whether I value what I am doing, or whether I will ultimately benefit from this action, rather, I do it because it is tradition and it is what has always been done. I keep the Sabbath, I eat strictly Kosher, and so much more, and while I have come to love this way of life, If I had not started doing it because of family tradition, I am not sure it is something I would have started doing on my own because it is not something I see as a means to an end or something that seems so logical. Perhaps tradition is not the most rational idea but I do believe that acting because of tradition usually come from a good place.

Weber’s reasons for why people work

BLOG #3 I think Weber’s instrumental-rational approach to social action describes why most of us go to work. Today people just want to work to make money so that they can have food and shelter. Especially nowadays since the economy isn’t great and the job options aren’t many, people are most likely going to take any kind of job opportunity that comes their way. Even a person who loves their job still only works to make money. This would fall under the category of Affective Action. But it is not Affective Action alone that makes people in this situation work; they are also motivated by instrumental-rational actions. They aren’t purely doing what they love because they love doing it. They have other motives.

One could say people work because of value-rational reasons. This would mean people work because they believe in the value of work and that it makes you a respectable person. But then, in my opinion, if work takes away time from the real important things such as your family, religion and your mental health than how could one believe it is inherently respectable? I agree that supporting a family is a respectable thing to do. A person wants to be able to feed and shelter his family. But then that would also fall under the category of instrumental rational action. The only other social action for the reason why we work is because of tradition. People have been working since the beginning of time and this could be why we do it today. But this only works in conjunction with instrumental-rational action as well. Because even though people have always been working, they’ve only done it to be able to survive. They do it to be able to have the means to create shelter and sustenance for their families. To sum up, even if a person works because they love their work or they believe in the action of work itself or they are doing it because their ancestors did it, they still are working because they know a paycheck is coming at the end of the week. Money is definitely a main motivator for why people go to work today.




Weber + 4 Ideal Types of Social Action

Blog #4

Max Weber (1864-1920) was a sociologist who was expressing his concern with rationalization. Rationalization is the process whereby an increasing number of social actions and social relationships become based on considerations of efficiency or calculation. Weber believes that there are four ideal types of social actions. Ideal types are used as a tool to look at real cases and compare them to the ideal types to see where they fall. No social action is purely just one of the four types.

  1. Traditional Social Action: actions controlled by traditions, “the way it has always been done”
  2. Affective Social Action: actions determined by one’s specific affections and emotional state, you do not think about the consequences
  3. Value Rational Social Action: actions that are determined by a conscious belief in the inherent value of a type of behavior (ex: religion)
  4. Instrumental-Rational Social Action: actions that are carried out to achieve a certain goal, you do something because it leads to a result

In class we discussed the social action, marriage, in terms of these four ideal types. Now, I will discuss “going to school” in terms of these four ideal types. Traditionally, one may attend college because her grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles have as well. They wish to continue the family tradition and continue with college as well. When relating to affective, one may go to school just because they enjoy learning. They love going to college whether or not it will make them broke. With value rational, one may attend college because it’s apart of his/her religion that everyone must receive the proper education. Therefore, this person attends college for that reason only. Finally, one may go to college because he/she may want an amazing job in the future and in order to get that job, he/she needs a college degree. 

Post # 4 The House of Sand and Fog

This was a very interesting movie which i enjoyed a lot. The writing was superb and the acting of the different cultures and individuals were fantastic. Weber would have had a lot to say about this movie if he were alive to see it. His theories of different actions explain multiple situations in this movie. His theory of affective action were displayed when the woman ( I am bad with names so the people are referred to woman, father, wife, boy and cop) attempted to commit suicide after drinking heavily. Traditional action was seen with the father and boy when he taught his boy about their culture and how they were different from Americans. Also seen in their prayers and customs as well, for instance the fathers view of the female lawyer as weird or the way he always dressed in public. Instrumental -value rational was seen with the cop and his view to take the family by gunpoint. this was all driven to get the goal of the family out and his side chick back into the house. it was also seen with the fathers attempt to keep the house as it was instrumental for him to flip the house. And finally value-rational action was seen when the family took care of the woman after she attempted suicide each time by taking her in and making sure she was safe and nurtured back to health the best they could in the situation they were in.

Now in my opinion, the family was more in the right than the female. She had time to fix the situation she was in just by opening up her mail. You can be depressed or mad or emotional beyond, but it is your duty to live your life and protect yourself, especially when all the information is sent directly to your door. It was no secret that they were taxing her, even though falsely, her fault for not correcting the issue. If she did that, the house would have still been hers and the other family would not have been in the situation they were until their deaths. It was not the families fault, as the man saw an opportunity and he ceased it. In this day and age, if you let just one opportunity slide by, you may have lost your chance to join the leisure class and give his family a better life. I am not saying that the man handled the situation perfectly, as their were faults on both sides, but i see him much more in the right than the woman. Make this a lesson to OPEN YOUR MAIL!!!

Blog# 5: The Distribution of Power Within the Political Community: Class, Status, Party (1925)

Max Weber was interested in motives behind social action rather than the actual actions themselves. He differs from Durkeim and Marx who sought to uncover universal laws applicable to all societies. Weber was more subjective and thought about people’s mental states or a mentalistic approach. Weber defined sociology as a “science which attempts the interpretive understanding of social action in order thereby to arrive at the causal explanation of its course and effect.” The structure of every legal order directly influences the distribution of power, economic or otherwise, within its respective community. The way we interpret power is the chance of a man or number of men to recognize their own will in social action even against the resistance of others who participate in the action. The emergence of economic power can be a consequence of power that exists on other grounds. Power must be valued for its own sake. However, not all power involves social honor.

Weber talks about traditional action (actions controlled by tradition or deeply rooted habits) affective action (conditions determined by emotions and affections) value-rational action (actions determined by conscious belief in the inherent-ethical, esthetic religious etc.) and instrumental action (carried out to achieve a certain goal). People use class as a self-identification or to see where they fit. It’s a “subjective class identification” process. Classes, status groups and parties are phenomena of the distribution of power within a community. Class doesn’t simply relate to the means of production. Class refers broadly to the market situation.

The relationship between race and social status is variable. Physical labor generally disqualifies one from membership in the most privileged status group. Economic pursuits are seen as a debasement of status. As far as parties go, parties reside in the “spheres of power.” Party-oriented social action always involves an association directed towards an end or a goal striven for in a well executed planned manner. The goal could be the cause or personal. Parties aren’t solely based on purely class or status.