Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/3537
Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Social Sciences legacy departments
Title: Max Weber's theory of action : an examination of its interpretation and extension by Parsons and Schutz
Authors: Butts, Stewart
Issue Date: 1981
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Weber's contribution to the study of social action has been a major influence upon the development of modern sociology but aspects of his approach have been obscured by the process of translation, commentary and evaluation - and in this respect the work of Parsons and to a lesser extent Schutz has been significant. Hence this study aims (a) to clarify the nature of Webens Theory of Action and (b) to determine its contemporary value in comparison with the extension of his ideas by Parsons and Schutz. We examine the interpretation, advanced particularly by Parsons, that Weber's approach to the study of action changed as he became increasingly concerned with the nature of sociological inquiry, and, thereby, moved beyond the problems of historical method. On the basis of a detailed examination of Weber's theoretical and methodological arguments we reject the idea of a break in his thinking about historical and sociological research and this has important implications for some accepted views-on Weber's conception of objectivity, ideal type concepts and understanding. Parsons set out to extend Weber from the perspective of a natural science of society, but his claim to identify a convergence between Durkheim, Pareto and Weber into the Voluntaristic Theory of Action is rejected and the criticisms, which his development of some aspects of Weberts approach have experienced, are sufficient to cast doubts upon the-validity of his General Theory. Schutz formulated a phenomenological critique of Weber's categories of interpretive sociology and sought to establish a philosophically more secure basis for the study of action but, we suggest, his assumptions about the everyday world, allied to his evaluation of Weber's approach, led him to propose an impracticable methodology. Finally, we argue that the contemporary relevance of Weber's Theory of Action can be seen from the way many of the problems involved in the study of action, some of which were identified by the development of the phenomenological perspective, can be solved by recourse to his approach.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/3537
Affiliation: Department of Applied Social Science



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