The action theoretical approach has already proved its value as a framework for communication research, most especially in the study of media audiences and media use. It has deep roots in Weberian sociology, symbolic interactionism and phenomenology and it has been a robust survivor of the various storms that have beset the practice of the social sciences since the collapse of structuralist and social system paradigms. The social action approach privileges the perspective of the acting individual but offers guidelines for connecting the subjective orientation with networks of social interaction and for treating 'behaviour' as a social process. Research within this framework takes account of the wider social context and calls for a careful combination of empirical observation and interpretation, with a corresponding diversity of methodologies. The appeal of the approach stems also from its flexibility, wide range of applications and sensitivity to cultural and social meanings. The contributions assembled in this book, despite their diversity, can all be placed within the framework of social action theory. Some are reports of empirical inquiries, others reflections on theory but each one sheds some light on the significance of media use in everyday experience and contributes to an understanding of communication in society.
Karsten Renckstorf is Professor of Communication Studies at Nijmegen University, The Netherlands. Denis McQuail is Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Amsterdam University, The Netherlands. Judith E. Rosenbaum and Gabi Schaap are Assistant Professors of Communication Studies at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.