Social Actors: what does this mean in english!

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supreme
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Hey,

Just started doing sociology for my nursing degree, 2nd week of lectures.

"Secondly, functionalism - like other structural theories - can be accussed of playing down the degree of indepdence which social actors actually possess. They tend to be treated as "pawns" in a larger game, and are assumed to be unable to alter social institutions or roles as a result of their own indepdent actions."

I understand what it is saying overall but I can't find a definition to what "social actors," are or the concept in plain english. If someone could could give me a definition/explain "social actors" would be so grateful.

Thanks
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spacedonkey
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"Social actors" could be interpreted as either individuals or collectives (e.g. political parties, trades unions, social movements) who exercise agency as opposed to constraining social structures. Structural theories emphasize the ways in which social structures determine and constrain individual (or collective) action, whereas Action theories take the opposite viewpoint.
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Chris.Livesey
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Although the term “social actor” is sometimes seen as just another example of sociological jargon (“actor” is just a flash way of saying “people”) Action theorists use the concept to argue that “people” have certain qualities, just as Structural theorists argue that people have (different) qualities.

“An actor”, for Action theorists, has the ability to actively construct their world through the day-today choices they make (rather than simply reacting to structural pressures as Functionalists, for example, tend to argue).

A social actor, in basic terms, is a conscious, thinking, individual who has the capacity to shape their world in a variety of ways by reflecting on their situation and the choices available to them at any given time.
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supreme
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(Original post by spacedonkey)
"Social actors" could be interpreted as either individuals or collectives (e.g. political parties, trades unions, social movements) who exercise agency as opposed to constraining social structures. Structural theories emphasize the ways in which social structures determine and constrain individual (or collective) action, whereas Action theories take the opposite viewpoint.
(Original post by Chris.Livesey)
Although the term “social actor” is sometimes seen as just another example of sociological jargon (“actor” is just a flash way of saying “people”) Action theorists use the concept to argue that “people” have certain qualities, just as Structural theorists argue that people have (different) qualities.

“An actor”, for Action theorists, has the ability to actively construct their world through the day-today choices they make (rather than simply reacting to structural pressures as Functionalists, for example, tend to argue).

A social actor, in basic terms, is a conscious, thinking, individual who has the capacity to shape their world in a variety of ways by reflecting on their situation and the choices available to them at any given time.
Thanks very much x 2!
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