Theories of Social Action


1. Ability to think critically on the major theoretical contributions in the field of Sociology that have emphasized social action as a structuring element of modern societies;
2. Ability to perform sociological analysis of the different dynamics of social action, in the light of the most recent contributions by sociology and neuroscience
3. Knowledge and critical analysis of the results of recent empirical investigations on the Portuguese reality;
4. Ability to apply theories of social action to actual situations and social contexts; 
 5. Ability to communicate accurately and pertinently about knowledge on theories of social action.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Available soon


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Students must have completed 48 ECTS credits.


Barbalet, J. (1998). Emoção, teoria social e estrutura social. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget.
Boudon, R. (2009). Rational choice theory. In Bryan S. Turner, The new Blackwell companion to social iheory. Chichester: Blackwell, pp. 179-195.
Giddens, A. (2001). Transformações da Intimidade. Oeiras: Celta.
Goffman, E. (1974). Interaction rituals. Essays on face-to-face behavior. New York: Pantheon Books.
Lipovetsky, G. (2006). A felicidade paradoxal. Lisboa: Edições 70.
Parsons, T. & Shils, E. (1962). Toward a general theory of action. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Roberts, B. (2006). Micro social theory. Hampshire: Palgrave.
Turner, J. (1988). A theory of social interaction. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Walby, S. (2009). Globalization and inequalities: Complexity and contested modernities. London: Sage.

Teaching method

Evaluation method

Subject matter

1. Social action in the context of sociological production
- Structure and social action
- Reflexivity and social action
2. Sociology and the theories of social action
- From philosophical thought to sociological reflection
- The Classics: Marx, Weber, and Parsons
- The more recent ones: Mead, Garfinkel, Goffman, and Giddens
- Towards a systemic approach to social action
3. The constraints of social action
- The classical paradigms, focusing on the material, and the most recent, focused on pleasure and personal fulfillment
- The economic matter and social norms and values
- Collective action and individual hedonism
4. The new frontiers of social action
- Sociology and the Neurosciences
- The individual and the social
- Emotion and reason
5. The analysis of social action through approaches on complex matters (examples)
- Decision-making in contexts of risk in the economic sphere
- Situations of individual and social disruption in contexts of gender violence


Programs where the course is taught: