What are social action/interactionist theories?

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Social action theories and interactionism can be defined as micro level, 'bottom up' approaches that focus on the actions and interactions of the individual. Importantly these theories are voluntaristic, therefore seeing indidvuals as having free will and choice; in other words our actions and ideas are not determined by society. Rather than being 'passive puppets' we are 'free agents', creating and shaping society through our choices, meanings and actions.

There are a number of threads within social action theory including symbolic interactionism, labelling theory, Goffman's dramaturgical model, phenomenology and ethnomethodology.

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