Talcott Parsons

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Talcott Parsons bigraphy, stories - American sociologist

Talcott Parsons : biography

December 13, 1902 – May 8, 1979

Talcott Parsons (December 13, 1902 – May 8, 1979) was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973.

Parsons developed a general theory for the study of society called action theory, based on the methodological principle of voluntarism and the epistemological principle of analytical realism. The theory attempted to establish a balance between two major methodological traditions: the utilitarian-positivist and hermeneutic-idealistic traditions. For Parsons, voluntarism established a third alternative between these two. More than a theory of society, Parsons presented a theory of social evolution and a concrete interpretation of the "drives" and directions of world history.

Parsons analyzed the work of Émile Durkheim and Vilfredo Pareto and evaluated their contributions through the paradigm of voluntaristic action. Parsons was also largely responsible for introducing and interpreting Max Weber’s work to American audiences. Although he was generally considered a major structuralist functionalist scholar, in an article late in life, Parsons explicitly wrote that the term "functional" or "structural functionalist" were inappropriate ways to describe the character of his theory.Talcott Parsons, "The Present Status of "Structural-Functional" Theory in Sociology." In Talcott Parsons, Social Systems and The Evolution of Action Theory New York: The Free Press, 1975.Talcott Parsons generally agreed with Kingsley Davis’ assessment that functional analysis cannot be regarded as an appropriate characterization for any special method or any specific school. It is a "technique," which is far too universal to embody such implications. See Kingsley Davis, "The Myth of Functional Aanalysis as a Special Method in Sociology and Anthropology." American Sociological Review, Vol.24.no.6. 1959. pp. 757–772. For Parsons, "structural functionalism" was a particular stage in the methodological development of the social science, and "functionalism" was a universal method; neither term was a name for any specific school. In the same way, the concept "grand theory" is a derogatory term, which Parsons himself never used.

Works on Parsons

  • Hans P.M. Adriaansens, Talcott Parsons and the Conceptual dilemma. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.
  • James V. Aidala, Schemas of Social Evolution: An Examination of the theories of Gerhard Lenski and Talcott Parsons. MA-thesis, advisor: Martin U. Martel, Brown University, 1976.
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander, The Modern Reconstruction of Classical Thought: Talcott Parsons. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983.
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander, Neofunctionalism. Beverly Hills: Sage, 1985.
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander, Twenty Lectures: Sociological Theory Since World War II. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.
  • Jeffrey C. Alexander, Neofunctionalism and After. Wiley, 1998.
  • José Almaraz, La theoría de Talcott Parsons: la problemática de la constitución metodológica del objecto. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 1981.
  • Bernard Barber & Uta Gerhardt (eds.) Agenda for Sociology: Classic Sources and Current Uses of Talcott Parsons’ Work. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1999.
  • Harold J. Bershady, Ideology and Social Knowledge. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1973.
  • Max Black (ed.) The Social Theories of Talcott Parsons: A Critical Examination. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961.
  • Margarete Blasche, Gesellschaftsbegriff und Sozialisationsprozess in den Theorien von Emile Durkheim und Talcott Parsons. Doctoral dissertation, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen, 1973.
  • Matteo Bortolini, L’immunità necessaria: Talcott Parsons e la sociologia della modernità. Meltemi, Roma, 2005.
  • Sigrid Brandt, Religiöses Handeln in moderner Welt: Talcott Parsons’ Religions-soziologie im Rahmen seiner allgemeinen Handlungs- und Systemtheorie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993.
  • Larry Brownstein, Talcott Parsons’ General Action Scheme. MA: Schenkman, 1982.
  • Francois Bourricaud, The Sociology of Talcott Parsons. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981. (French, 1977).
  • William Buxton, Talcott Parsons and the Capitalist Nation-State. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.
  • Francois Chazel, La théorie analytique de la société dans l´æuvre de Talcott Parsons. (Doctoral dissertation), soutenue à l’Université de Paris V en mars 1972. (Published by Mouton (Paris) in 1974).
  • Reinhard Damm, Systemtheorie und Recht: Zur Normentheorie Talcott Parsons. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1976.
  • Michael Ebert, Talcott Parsons – Seine theoretischen Instrumente in der medizinsoziologischen Analyse der Arzt-Patienten Beziehung. (Dissertation, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf). Aachen: Shaker, 2003.
  • Thomas J. Fararo, Social Action Systems: foundation and synthesis in sociological theory. Greenwood Publishers, 2001.
  • Renée Claire Fox, Victor M. Lidz and Harold J. Bershady (eds.) After Parsons: A Theory of Social Action for the Twenty-First Century. Russell Sage Foundation, 2005.
  • Nikolai Genov, Tolkut Parsunz i teoretichnata sotsiologiaa. Sofia: Idz-vo na Bulgarskata akademii na naukite, 1982.
  • Uta Gerhardt, Talcott Parsons: An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-521-81022-1
  • Uta Gerhardt, The Social Thought of Talcott Parsons: Methodology and American Ethos. Ashgate Publishers, 2011.
  • G.C. Hallen, Martin U. Martel, Rajeshwar Prasad and Michael V. Belok (ed.) Essays on the Sociology of Parsons: a felicitation volume in honor of Talcott Parsons. Meerut: Indian Journal of Social Research, 1977.
  • Christopher Hart (ed.) Talcott Parsons: A Collection of Essays in Honour of Talcott Parsons. Chester: Midrash, 2009. ISBN 9781905984138
  • Christopher Hart (ed.) Talcott Parsons: Theory, Development, and Applications. Essays Examining the Relevance of Parsonian Theory in the 21st Century. Kingswinford: Midrash Publishing 2008. (Japanese version in preparation).
  • Adrian C. Hayes, A semi-formal explication of Talcott Parsons’ general theory of action and evolutionary perspective. Advisor: Martin U. Martel. Doctor dissertation at Brown University, 1976.
  • Stephan Hein, Konturen des Rationalen: zu einem Grundmotiv im Theoriewerk von Talcott Parsons. Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2009.
  • Manuel Herrera Gómez, La cultura de la sociedad en Talcott Parsons. Universidad de Navarra, 2005.
  • Robert J. Holton & Bryan S. Turner, Talcott Parsons on Economy and Society. London: Routledge, 1986.
  • Jens Jetzkowitz and Carsten Stark (Hrsg.) Soziologischer Functionalismus: zur Methodologie einer Theorietradition.VS Verlag, 2003.
  • Benton Johnson, Functionalism in Modern Sociology: Understanding Talcott Parsons. Morristown, NJ, 1976.
  • Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab, The theory of Social Action in the Schutz-Parsons debate." Editions Universitaries Fribourg Suisse, 1991.
  • Paul Kellermann, Kritik einer Soziologie der Ordnung. Organismus und System bei Comte, Spencer und Parsons. Freiburg: Rombach, 1967.
  • A.H.M. Kerkhoff, De samenleving in schema’s: een inleiding in het sociologische denken van Talcott Parsons. Budel: Damon, 2007.
  • Kwang-ki Kim, Order and Agency: Talcott Parsons, Erving Goffman and Harold Garfinkel. State University of New York Press, 2002.
  • Tanja Kohlpoth, Systemtheorie und struktur-individualistischer Ansatz in den International Beziehungen. Kassel University Press, 1999.
  • Tanja Kohlpoth, Gesellschaftsbild und Soziologische Theorie: Talcott Parsons’ Funktionalismus im Kontext der gesellschaftlichen Entwicklung der USA in den 1950s and 1960s. Kassel University Press, June 2006. (Dissertation: Advisors: Eike Henning & Werner Ruf.)
  • Jan Künzler, Medien und Gesellschaft: die Medienkonzepte von Talcott Parsons, Jürgen Habermas und Niklas Luhmann. Stuttgart: F. Enke, 1989.
  • P.N. Lackey, Invitation to Talcott Parsons’ Theory. Houdton: Cap and Gown Press, 1987.
  • Bernd M. Lindenberg, Vorüberlegungen zu einer Theorie der modernen Industriegesellschaft: Kant, Weber und Parsons in systemtheoretischer Perspektive. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1984.
  • Jan J. Loubser, Rainer C. Baum, Andrew Effrat and Victor Lidz (eds.) Explorations in General Theory in Social Science. 2 volumes. New York: The Free Press, 1976.
  • Herrera Gómez Manuel, La cultura de la sociedad en Talcott Parsons. Cizur Menor, Navarra: Thomas Aranzadi, 2005.
  • Alberto Marinelli, Struttura dell’ordine e funzione del diritto: saggio su Parsons. Milano, Italy: F. Angeli, 1988.
  • Realino Marra, Talcott Parsons. Valori, norme, comportamento deviante, «Materiali per una storia della cultura giuridica», XXXIV-2, 2004, 315-27.
  • Bernhard Miebach, Strukturalistische Handlungstheorie: Zur Verhältnis von soziologischer Theorie und empirischer Forschung in Werk Talcott Parsons. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1984.
  • Laurence S. Moss and Andrew Savchenko (eds.) Talcott Parsons: Economic Sociologist of the 20th Century. Blackwell, 2006.
  • Hans-Peter Müller, Talcott Parsons. Utb, 2004.
  • Richard Münch, Theory of Action: Towards a New Synthesis Going Beyond Parsons. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987.
  • Helmut Nolte, Psychoanalyse und Soziologie: Die Systemtheorien Sigmund Freuds und Talcott Parsons. Huber, Bern, 1970.
  • Michael Opielka, Gemeinschaft in Gesellschaft: Soziologie nach Hegel und Parsons. VS Verlag, 2004.
  • R. Prandini (ed.) Talcott Parsons. Milano: Bruno Mondatori, 1998.
  • Sven Paschke, Talcott Parsons – Theoretische Ansatze Und Ihr Bezug Zur Wirklichkeit." Grin Verlag, 2007.
  • Gabriele Pollini & Giuseppe Sciortino (eds). Parsons’ The Structure of Social Action and Contemporary Debates. Milano, Italy: FrancoAngeli, 2001.
  • Tuk-Sang Pyun, Science, social science, and society: natural images in Talcott Parsons’ social theory. Doctoral dissertation. Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, 2002.
  • Stan Rifkin, The Parsons Game: The First Simulation of Talcott Parsons’ General Theory of Action. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. The George Washington University, Washington, DC., 2004.
  • Roland Robertson & Bryan S. Turner (eds). Talcott Parsons: Theorist of Modernity. London: Sage Publications, 1991.
  • Guy Rocher, Talcott Parsons and American Sociology. London: Nelson, 1974.
  • Segre Sandro, Talcott Parsons: Un’introduzione. Carocci, 2009.
  • Karl-Heinz Saurwein, Ökonomie und soziologische Theoriekonstruction: Zur Bedeutung ökonomischer Theorieelemente in the Socialtheorie Talcott Parsons. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1988.
  • Stephen P. Savage, The Theories of Talcott Parsons: The Social Relations of Action. London: Macmillan, 1981.
  • Wolfgang Schluchter (ed.) Verhaten, Handeln, und System: Talcott Parsons’ Beitrag zur der Socialwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main: Schurkamp Verlag, 1980.
  • Wolfgang Schluchter, Grundlegungen der Soziologie: eine Theoriegeschichte. Bind 2, Mohr Siebeck Tübingen, 2007.
  • Michael Schmid, Sozialtheorie und soziales System: Versuche über Talcott Parsons. Neubiberg: Institut für Soziologie und Gesellschaftspolitik, Universität der Bundeswehr, Fakultät für Pädagogik, 1989.
  • Thomas Schwinn, Jenseit von Subjecivismus und Objektivismus: Max Weber, Alfred Schütz und Talcott Parsons. Berlin: Dunker & Humblot, 1993.
  • Mark Shields, Vision and Logic in Social Evolutionary Theory: A Comparative Study of Talcott Parsons and Jurgen Habermas. Advisor: Martin U. Martel. Ph.D. dissertation, Brown University, 1985.
  • Helmut Staubmann, Die Kommunikation von Gefühlen: Ein Beitrag zur Soziologie der Ästhetic aud der Grundlage von Talcott Parsons’ Allgemeiner Theorie des Handelns. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1995.
  • Helmut Staubman and Harald Wenzel (eds.),Talcott Parsons: Zur Aktualität eines Theorieprogramms. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag, 2000.
  • Helmut Staubmann (ed.) Action Theory: Methodological Studies. LIT-Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2006.
  • Helmut Staubmann and Victor Lidz (eds). Talcott Parsons: Actor, Situation, and Normative Pattern: An Essay in the Theory of Social Action. Wien: LIT, 2009.
  • Alexander Stingl, Between Discursivity and Sensus Communis: Kant, Kantianism and the Social Media Theory of Talcott Parsons. Inaugural-Dissertation, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, edited for publication, OPUS Erlangen-Nürnberg University Press, 2008.
  • Alexander I. Stingl Anthropos’ Scaffoldings: Studies in the Coevolution of Sociology, Biology, Medicine, and Philosophy. (with a foreword by Sal Restivo) forthcoming.
  • Jiñ Subrt (ed.) Talcott Parsons a jeho prinos soudobé sociologické teori. (Talcott Parsons and his Contribution to Contemporary Sociological Theory). Praha: Karolinum, 2006.
  • Kazuyoski Takagi, The Theoretical System of Talcott Parsons. 1986. (Japanese).
  • Ken’ichi Tominaga, Shakai hendô riron (The theory of Social Change). 1965. (Tominaga’s doctoral dissertation contains an extensive discussion of Parsons).
  • A. Javier Trevinõ (ed.), Talcott Parsons Today: His Theory and Legacy in Contemporary Sociology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2001.
  • A. Javier Trevino, Talcott Parsons on law and the legal system, Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars, 2008.
  • Herman Turk & Richard L. Simpson (eds.) Institutions and Social Exchange: The Sociologies of Talcott Parsons and George C. Homans.Indianapolis & New York: The Bobbs-Merill Co., 1971.
  • Bruce C. Wearne, The Theory and Scholarship of Talcott Parsons to 1951: A Critical Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  • Harald Wenzel, Die Ordnung des Handelns – Talcott Parsons’ Theorie des allgemeinen Handlungssystems. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1990.
  • Kiyomitsu Yui, Development of Voluntaristic Theory of Action in American Sociology. (Japanese) Ph.D. dissertation, Kobe University, 1992.
  • Kiyomitsu Yui, Parsons and Sociology Today. Sekaisisosha, Kyoto, 2002.
  • Kiyomitsu Yui, Invitation to Parsons Renaissance. Keisoshobo, Tokyo, 2004.
  • Norbert Zander, Methodologische Prinzipen der Soziologie von Talcott Parsons: Wege zur Soziologie. Doctoral dissertation, Universität Gesamthochschule Duisberg, 1988.