Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons, 1902–79, American sociologist, b. Colorado Springs, Colo., educated at Amherst College (B.A., 1924), London School of Economics, and Univ. of Heidelberg (Ph.D., 1927). He was on the faculty at Harvard from 1927 until his retirement in 1974. He is known for his attempt to construct a single theoretical framework within which general and specific characteristics of societies could be systematically classified; it is known as structural-functional theory. Parsons was also interested in medical sociology and the professions in general. In recent years he has been criticized for understating the importance of social conflict. Among his writings are The Structure of Social Action (1937), The Social System (1951), Structure and Process in Modern Societies (1960), Social Structure and Personality (1964), Societies (1966), Sociological Theory and Modern Society (1967), and Politics and Social Structure (1969).

See studies by W. C. Mitchell (1967), H. Turk and R. L. Simpson, ed. (1971), and J. Alexander (1984).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Social Theories of Talcott Parsons: A Critical Examination
Max Black.
Prentice Hall, 1961
Dividing Public and Private: Law, Politics, and Social Theory
Gerald Turkel.
Praeger Publishers, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Part IV "Talcott Parsons"
Stalking the Sociological Imagination: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Surveillance of American Sociology
Mike Forrest Keen.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "No One above Suspicion: Talcott Parsons under Surveillance"
Sociology on Trial
Maurice Stein; Arthur Vidich.
Prentice-Hall, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "The World View of Talcott Parsons" begins on p. 96
Law and Sociology, Exploratory Essays
William M. Evan.
Free Press of Glencoe, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "The Law and Social Control" by Talcott Parsons begins on p. 56
Japan's Prospect
Edward A. Ackerman; William Henry Chamberlin; Merle Fainsod; Carl J. Friedrich; Douglas G. Haring; Talcott Parsons; G. Nye Steiger; Seiyei Wakukawa; Frederick M. Watkins.
Harvard University Press, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Population and Social Structure" by Talcott Parsons
For a Science of Social Man: Convergences in Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology
John Gillin; Howard Becker; John Gillin; A. Irving Hallowell; George Peter Murdock; Theodore M. Newcomb; M. Brewster Smith; Talcott Parsons.
Macmillan, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Psychology and Sociology" by Talcott Parsons
Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture
Clyde Kluckhohn; Henry A. Murray.
Alfred A. Knopf, 1953 (2nd Rev. edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 22 "Age and Sex in the Social Structure of the United States" by Talcott Parsons and Chap. 39 "Illness and the Role of the Physician: A Sociological Perspective" by Talcott Parsons
Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917: A Collection of Essays, with Translations and a Bibliography
Kurt H. Wolff; Emile Durkheim.
Ohio State University Press, 1960
Librarian’s tip: "Durkheim's Contribution to the Theory of Integration of Social Systems" by Talcott Parsons begins on p. 118
Man and Culture: An Evaluation of the Work of Bronislaw Malinowski
Raymond Firth.
Humanities Press, 1957
Librarian’s tip: "Malinowski and the Theory of Social Systems" by Talcott Parsons begins on p. 53
The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton
Lewis A. Coser.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975
Librarian’s tip: "The Present Status of 'Structural-Functional' Theory in Sociology" by Talcott Parsons begins on p. 67
Laevi-Strauss: Structuralism and Sociological Theory
C. R. Badcock.
Holmes & Meier, 1976
Librarian’s tip: Includes "Sartre and Talcott Parsons" in Chap. Four
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