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A social action is an action done by a social actor. For sociologists, the word always means, activity oriented to others or taking others into account. This, in turn, means action based in shared meaning, not something individuals do for and by themselves.

Social action is always either a response to another actor or an attempt to secure such a response. Other persons need not be immediately present for an activity oriented to them to be called social.

We write letters to people far away who will not receive them for some time, or we make decisions about our own behaviour in the present by referring to standards of conduct that our parents taught us long ago.


It was Max Weber who first explicitly used and emphasized social action as the basis for theory. Max Weber has classified social action as

1. Rational action

2. Traditional action

3. Affectual action

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