Zweckrational Action

Zweckrational Action

Zweckrational Action Definition

There are four ideal types of social action, according to Max Weber. Instrumental or Zweckrational Action is the type of rationality that economists expected individuals would pursue to maximize their gains.


To maximize advantages, the actor in this action weighs the relative efficacy of many accessible methods to an endeavor, and sometimes the outcomes themselves as well. Zweckrational actions are those which are done with the intention of reaching a certain outcome. One of the two main forms of activity that predominate in contemporary society and contrast with traditional and affective action is Zweckrational action, according to Weber. 

It is a technocratic thought mindset in which  goals are rationally chosen. A social actor would use methods that are directly related to achieving the objective because that is what the person desires to  do. Here, determining the best and most efficient path to the objective is the primary goal. In this instance, the social actor doesn’t behave in accordance with their emotions and is not swayed by personal feelings. Since the objective is the primary focus rather than the method, these behaviors are instrumental in nature. 

Zweckrational action is often contrasted with value-rational action, which is based on personal values, beliefs, or ethical principles. In value-rational action, individuals may choose means that are not necessarily the most efficient or effective if they are aligned with their values. Before choosing a choice, the social actor considers the possible outcomes of each option.

Zweckrational action is prevalent in contemporary society, as people are continuously confronted with choices that need evaluating the possible outcomes and selecting the optimal course of action. If zweckrational activity is not counterbalanced by other types of social action, such as value-rational action or traditional action, it may have detrimental effects even if it might be seen as a beneficial influence in encouraging efficiency and effectiveness.

Feature Highlights

  1. Goal oriented
  2. Rational technocratic thinking
  3. Focus on efficiency
  4. Consideration of consequences
  5. Calculation of means

Examples of Zweckrational action

  1. A student who selects a particular online course at a particular website like udemy because the student considers it to be the best in that arena.
  2. Constructing a spacecraft with the intention of exploring  another planet is an example of a Zweckrational activity. Certain technologies are used in certain ways to achieve the desired outcome of building a spaceship.


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