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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Talcott Parsons: Selected full-text books and articles

Dividing Public and Private: Law, Politics, and Social Theory By 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 By Mike Forrest Keen Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "No One above Suspicion: Talcott Parsons under Surveillance"
Sociology on Trial By 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 By 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 By Edward A. Ackerman; Merle Fainsod; Carl J. Friedrich; Talcott Parsons; G. Nye Steiger; Seiyei Wakukawa; Frederick M. Watkins; William Henry Chamberlin; Douglas G. Haring 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 By Talcott Parsons; Howard Becker; John Gillin; A. Irving Hallowell; George Peter Murdock; Theodore M. Newcomb; M. Brewster Smith Macmillan, 1954
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Psychology and Sociology" by Talcott Parsons
Personality in Nature, Society, and Culture By 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 By Emile Durkheim; Kurt H. Wolff 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 By 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 By 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
Lévi-Strauss: Structuralism and Sociological Theory By C. R. Badcock Holmes & Meier, 1976
Librarian's tip: Includes "Sartre and Talcott Parsons" in Chap. Four
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