Difference Between Social Action and Social Movements

Key Difference – Social Action vs Social Movements
 

Social action and social movement are two words that are very much linked together although there is a difference between the two words. First let us define the two words. Social action can simply be defined as a collective action where a group of people gets together for a social cause such as a reform or social movement. On the other hand, a social movement is when a group of people gets together to stand up for a social issue. In this sense, a social movement is an instance of a social action, but it does not capture the entity of it. This is the key difference between social action and social movement. Through this article let us examine the differences between the two concepts in detail.

What is Social Action?

First let us begin with the social action. Social action can simply be defined as a collective action where a group of people gets together to a social cause such as a reform or social movement. The word, social action is a Weberian conceptualization. It was Max Weber who first brought this concept to sociology. Through the social action theory, Weber highlights how the human action can have an impact on others and how these actions are modified in case the action brings about negative consequences.

According to Weber, there are four main types of social action. They are,

  1. Rational action
  2. Value action
  3. Affective action
  4. Traditional action

Through each for of action, Weber tries to emphasize the relationship it has to various components such as logic, emotions, customs and values. This highlights that social action captures a rather broad scope. Now let us move on to the social movement.

Difference Between Social Action and Social Movements

What is Social Movement?

A social movement is when a group of people gets together to stand up for a social issue. These issues can be political, economic, cultural, etc. A social movement allows the people to voice their opinions on a public matter. When looking at the history, there have been many instances of social movements across the globe. In the modern society, social movements rely very much on technology to organize people and voice their opinions.

There are different types of social movements. For instance, some movements can be peaceful while others are very violent. There are also other types of movements such as Reform movements, conservative movements and also radical movements. Some widely known examples for social movements are women’s rights movements, labor movements, etc.

Key Difference - Social Action vs Social Movements

What is the Difference Between Social Action and Social Movements?

Definitions of Social Action and Social Movements:

Social Action: Social action can simply be defined as a collective action where a group of people gets together for a social cause such as a reform or social movement.

Social Movement: A social movement is when a group of people gets together to stand up for a social issue.

Features of Social Action and Social Movements:

Relationship to others:

Social Action: Social actions are very much related to other people in the society.

Social Movement: Social movements also affect others in a direct or an indirect manner.

Link:

Social Action:  Social action captures a variety of activities in the society.

Social Movement: Social movements can be considered as an example of a social action.

 

Image Courtesy:
1. “Stop The War protests in London, 2007-02-24” by David Hunt from Warwickshire, UK – Crowd. [CC BY 2.0] via Commons
2. “20081106 Executive Yuan Human Rights Sit-in” by 笨笨的小B – originally posted to Flickr as Silence action (II). [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Commons