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Max Weber

Sociology according to Weber is not confined to study of social action alone.

It studies certain other factors as well. But the basic fact is that social action which according to Max Weber is that action is social in so far as by virtue of the subjective meaning attached to it by acting individual it takes account of the behaviour of others and is thereby oriented in its course.

Social action according to Weber possesses the following characteristics:
Relationship with the action of others: No action shall be called a social action unless it has relationship with the present, past or future behaviour of others. Others are not necessarily known persons. They may be unknown individuals as well. Social action includes both failures to act and possess acquiescence may be oriented to the past, present or accepted further behaviour of others.

Social action is not isolated: Social action in order to be really social has to be oriented to the behaviour of other animate things as well. Worship before an idol or worship in a lonely place is not a social action. It has to be oriented to the behaviour of animate beings as well. In every kind of action even overt action is social in the sense of the present discussions. Overt action is non social if it is oriented solely to the behaviour of the inanimate objects.

Result of cooperation and struggle between individual and members of the society: Mere contact with human beings is not a social action. It should deal with the cooperation and struggle between various individuals. A crowd that may collect at a place does not necessarily indulge in the social action unless it starts behaving with one another. Social action is not identical with the similar action, actions of many persons or action influenced by others.

Has a meaningful understanding with other, action or action of others: Mere contact with others or actions in relation to others are not a social action. Social action should have a meaningful understanding with the social action of others. In every type of contact of human beings has a social character. This is rather confined to cases where the actor's behaviour is meaningfully oriented to that of others.

Weber argued that to explain an action we must interpret it in terms of it's subjectively intended meaning. A person's action is to be explained in terms of the consequences he or she intended purpose rather than in terms of its actual effects the two are often at variance. A subjectively intended meaning is also a causal explanation of the action, in that the end in view is a cause of present actions. For Weber it is important that action is defined in terms of meaningfulness and sociological analysis must proceed by identifying the meaning that actions have for actors.

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