Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons is an American sociologist who attempted to integrate all the social sciences into a science of human action. He was converted tofunctionalism under the influence of the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.

In “The Social System” 1951, Parsons argued that the crucial feature of societies, as of biological organisms, is homeostasis (maintaining a stable state), and that their parts can be understood only in terms of the whole.

Parsons began his career as a biologist and later became interested in economics and sociology. He studied in Heidelberg, Germany. He taught sociology at Harvard from 1931 until his death, and set up the Department of Social Relations there. He published more than 150 books and articles.

Like the German sociologist r,Max Webe whose work he translated, Parsons wanted to describe convincingly logical types of social relation applicable to all groups, however small or large.

His great achievement was to construct a system or general theory of social action to include all its aspects, drawing on several disciplines and reinterpreting previous theories. His first attempt at this systematization appeared in “The Structure of Social Action” 1937, followed by “Essays in Sociological Theory, Pure and Applied” 1942.

Major Works of Talcott Parsons

– The Structure of Social Action, 1937
– The Social System, 1952
– Structure and Process in Modern Societies, 1960
– Sociological Theory and Modern Society, 1968
– Politics and Social Structure, 1969

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