In his explanation of practice theory in terms of cultural theory, Reckwitz argue that the 18th-century social theory outlines three basic tenets that explain individual actions and social order. These three choices include purpose-oriented theory, norm-oriented theory, and ‘cultural theories.” Purpose-oriented theory and norm-oriented theory are usually presented as divergent conceptual choices, but have both been criticized by social philosophy of the 20th century, mainly driven by culturalist revolutions.
According to the author, the manner of comprehension and presentation of human action and social order is what distinguishes various cultural theorists from their classical counterparts of homo economicus and homo sociologicus’. The homo economicus model presents action via recourse to the intentions, interests, and purposes of persons, which demonstrates social order as a manifestation of collective divergent interests. On the other hand, the homo sociologicus model clarifies social order in terms of combined norms and values, portraying normative consensus as a determinant of social order. Modern cultural theories, however, explain social order as a product of the interplay between combined cognitive and symbolic formations, which clarifies the implication of the world. Therefore, modern cultural theories tend to disown the tenets of the classical models’ explanation of social order. The homo economicus, as well as homo sociologicus’ models, ignore the implicit knowledge layer, responsible for symbolic organization and understanding of reality.
Reckwitz further presents textualism, mentalism, intersubjective and practice theory as the four major forms of cultural theory. According to the author, practice theory is a subset of cultural theory. Unlike other types of cultural theories, practice theory places the ‘social’ in a distinct sphere.