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Lecture 2

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dan Silver

Lecture 2January 18 2011AGENDA Sociology as Science of ActionYou need a way of understanding action and what people are doing Its about whats mattering You ask what people are trying to do when they go to church Not the organizational structure of the church Are they trying to achieve salvation That kind of question is Webers question Why are they doing something what is it supposed to mean to them What does your work mean to you Capitalismhard work a way of getting closer to God What youre doing means something to you You dont really think about the deep philosophy when youre going to work Weber thought that this isnt what sociology is about Sociology has to study what people are doing meaning not impulsive behavior How you going to compare what people are doing in different places and different eras of time o How do you study that Its impossible to just look out into the world and then ask yourself what it means You need some sort of theory that will help you draw lines and compare the different meanings people prescribe to their actions HowTheory of Action o A theory thats supposed to tell you what are the main types of actions that people can undertake What are the main ways that people make their behavior meaningful Weber tries to give a basic typology of the basic actions When you have that typology you will know what to look for You need something to make sense out of things We need a theory to tell us what to look for What are the basic types of meanings that people can give to their behavior There are 4 basic types of social actions Hes not saying that these are the only types of actions and that people cant do a combination of these actions but its a useful way of carving out the world that can be modifiedo What makes them a type of action is that they make behavior look meaningful Purposive Rationality goal orientedYou understand what someones doing They have a goal theyve figured out a way of achieving that goal theyve thought of the consequences of that action theyve thought of different routes of achieving that goal if their current method doesnt worko Ie You see someone raising their fist It could just be a random tick but if you analyze the situation and see someone yelling at him you have rationalized the behavior and given the action a meaning Is hitting someone the best means to that endYou change based on the consequences Youre matching the best means to get to your goal If they
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