Frank Kalter
Action, Theories of Social

Pp. 75-79 in: James D. Wright (Ed.): International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. 2nd ed. 2015. Amsterdam: Elsevier

Social action is a key concept in sociology, and the development of adequate theories that can explain it is a central task. The social sciences suggest very different models of individual behavior without agreeing on a best solution. To understand the controversies and to sketch fruitful pathways, it is helpful to examine the specific role of social action theories within the more general sociological enterprise in more detail and to derive central quality criteria. Against the background of these criteria, a review of influential, traditional ‘models of man’ reveals the relative advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Major questions are how to deal with this variety of models and how to progress on the front of social action theories.