What Is an Example of Social Action Theory?


Diego Sanchez

Social action theory is a sociological perspective that emphasizes the active role of individuals and groups in shaping society. This theory posits that individuals are not passive recipients of social structures, but rather they actively construct and transform social reality through their actions and interactions.

An example of social action theory can be seen in the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. This movement was a collective effort by African Americans to challenge and change the system of racial segregation and discrimination that existed at the time.

The Civil Rights Movement

The civil rights movement was characterized by various forms of social action, including protests, marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and legal challenges. These actions were not only aimed at changing specific laws and policies, but also at challenging the underlying beliefs and values that supported racial discrimination.


One example of a social action within this movement was protests, which involved large numbers of people gathering in public spaces to voice their opposition to segregation and discrimination. These protests were often met with violence from police or counter-protesters, which further fueled public outrage and support for the movement.


Another example was boycotts, where African Americans refused to patronize businesses or institutions that practiced segregation or discrimination. The most famous example of this was the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-1956, where African Americans refused to ride city buses until they were desegregated.


Sit-ins were another form of social action used during this period. These were nonviolent protests where participants would occupy segregated spaces like lunch counters or public buildings until they were allowed to integrate.

Legal Challenges

Finally, legal challenges were another form of social action utilized during this period. Activists filed lawsuits challenging segregationist laws all the way up to the Supreme Court, which ultimately led to landmark decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional.


In conclusion, the civil rights movement in the United States is a powerful example of social action theory in action. This movement was driven by individuals and groups who actively challenged and transformed social reality through their actions and interactions. By using various forms of social action like protests, boycotts, sit-ins, and legal challenges, this movement ultimately brought about significant changes in American society that continue to shape our world today.