Parsons established action theory in order to integrate the sociology in action pdf of social order with the structural and voluntaristic aspects of macro and micro factors. Parsons sees motives as part of our actions.
Therefore, he thought that social science must consider ends, purposes and ideals when looking at actions. Parsons’ action theory is characterized by a system-theoretical approach, which integrated a meta-structural analysis with a voluntary theory. It argued the necessity for an action theory to be based on a voluntaristic foundation, claiming both a sheer positivistic-utilitarian approach as well as a sheer “idealistic” approach would not satisfy the necessary prerequisites, proposing an alternative, systemic general theory. As such, Parsons theory stands at least with one foot in the sphere of hermeneutics and similar interpretive paradigms, which become particularly relevant when the question of “ends” need to be considered within systems of action-orientation. It should be noted that Parsons was not a functionalist per se, but an action theorist.