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1. Broadly, the intentions, aims, or goals of an individual which motivate their behaviour on any particular occasion (see also communicative purposes). Some psychologists reject the concept altogether (see also behaviourism). In sociology, especially in social action theory and symbolic interactionism, purposes, along with beliefs, are a key focus of attention in understanding the behaviour of social actors. See also uses and gratifications.

2. Loosely, broad categories of use or social functionality for a tool or medium. In social science, this is normally termed a function (e.g. media functions, linguistic functions)—except in the rhetoric of technological determinism where technologies may be treated as if they have purposes of their own.

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