Coleman, Collins and Giddens on theory of action as the basis of general sociological theory


Šubrt I.

Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., head of Department of Historical Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic jiri.subrt@fhs.cuni.cz

ID of the Article:


For citation:

Šubrt I. Coleman, Collins and Giddens on theory of action as the basis of general sociological theory. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 2. P. 14-23




Abstract

The concept of action occupies a key position in the general sociological theory. According to many theorists – since M. Weber – it is a concept essential to clarifying social reality and social life as a whole. This article compares three approaches to the theory of action which emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century: the concepts of J. Coleman, R. Collins and A. Giddens respectively. What these share is their accent on the importance of the microsociological perspective for understanding of what is happening on the macro-social level. Where they differ is in the acceptance or rejection of the assumed impact of rationality on human action. Coleman sees people as rational, decisive beings, focussing their actions on the basis of calculating costs and rewards. Collins by contrast stresses supra-rational factors of emotion and routine. Giddens approach is more complex; he explains human action in relation to three levels of consciousness: discursive consciousness, practical consciousness and the unconscious. He also distinguishes three aspects of interaction (communication of meaning, the use of power and moral relationships) with corresponding types of structural elements (interpretative rules, resources and normative rules).


Keywords
sociological theory; social action; interaction; social reality; social structure; micro-level; macro-level; rationality; emotions; routine

References

Девятко И. Ф. Социологические теории деятельности и практической рациональности. Москва: Аванти плюс, 2003. [Devyatko I.F. (2003) Sotsiologicheskie teorii deyatel’nosti i prakticheskoy ratsional’nosti. [Sociological theories of activity and practical rationality]. Moscow: Avanti plyus. (In Russ.)]

Behnke J. (2002) Colemans Theorie der Moderne. In: Theorien der Gesellschaft: Einführung in zentrale Paradigmen der soziologischen Gegenwartanalyse. München, Wien: Oldenbourg Verlag: 37–65.

Coleman J. S. (1986) Social Theory, Social Research, and a Theory of Action. American Journal of Sociology. 91 (6): 1309–1335.

Coleman J. S. (1994) Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge. Massachusetts: The Belknap Press.

Collins R. (1975) Conflict Sociology: Toward an Explanatory Science. New York: Academic Press.

Collins R. (1981) On the Microfoundations of Macrosiology. American Journal of Sociology. 86 (5): 984–1014.

Collins R. (2004) Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Giddens A. (1976) New Rules of Sociological Method. London: Hutchinson.

Giddens A. (1981) Time and Space in Social Theory. In: Lebenswelt und soziale Probleme / Ed. by J. Matthes. Frankfurt/Main: Campus: 88–97.

Giddens A. (1988) Die Konstitution der Gesellschaft. Grundzüge einer Theorie der Strukturierung. Frankfurt/M.-New York: Campus, (англ. изд. 1984).

Keller J. (1994) Randall Collins – sociologie mezi tradicí a perspektivou. Sborník prací Filozofické fakulty Brněnské univerzity. Studia minora G 36, 75–90.

Marx K. Engels B. Vybrané spisy, I. Praha: Svoboda 1950.

Müller H.-P. (1992) Sozialstruktur und Lebensstile: Der neuere theoretische Diskurs über soziale Ungleichheit. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp.

Petrusek M. (1990) Spor o teorii strukturace Anthonyho Giddense v západní sociologii. Sociologický časopis. No. 26 (5): 375–391.

Šubrt J. (2015) The Society of Individuals: How to Solve the Dilemma of Individualism and Holism in Historical Sociology. Historická sociologie: Časopis pro historické sociální vědy. (1): 9–23.

Content No 2, 2017