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2011 1
Talcott Parsons

  1902-1979

  Biografia e formazione

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Talcott Parsons
  Pillole Biografiche
  Padre
  Pastore della comunità protestante
congregazionalista di Colorado Springs, Colorado
  Professor of English
  Divenne presidente del Marietta College in Ohio
  Credeva che il socialismo ed il cristianesimo
potessero essere un’unica entità che andasse
incontro al mutamento sociale
  Credeva che la cultua comprendesse dottrina ed
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Talcott Parsons

  Formazione
  Laurea alla Amhest University in biologia e
  Sviluppa l’interesse verso le scienze sociali, in
special modo verso l’economia, sotto l’influenza di
Walter Hamilton
•  Durante questo periodo legge le opere di Sumner,
Cooley e Durkheim.

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Talcott Parsons

  Studia economica alla London School of

  Fortemente inflluenzato dall’antropologo polacco
•  Funzionalista
  Periodo di studio alla Heidelberg University, in
  Alfred Weber (fratello di Max Weber) fu il suo
primo insegnante
  Segue I corsi di Karl Mannheim
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Talcott Parsons
La Grande Teoria
  Talcott Parsons was probably the most
prominent theorist of this time, and it is unlikely
that any one theoretical approach will so
dominate sociological theory again (Turner
  Parsons theory of society is plagued by an
absence of clarity. His work abounds with
ambiguities in both semantics and syntax
(Perdue 1986:118).
Martedì 22 febbraio © 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith
2011 Bolender 6
Talcott Parsons: The
Structure of Social Action

La struttura dell’azione sociale

  Implica I seguenti elementi di base:
  Gli attori sono individui
  Gli attori sono considerati come unità razionali che
realizzano obiettivi
  Gli attori possiedono modi alternativi

Martedì 22 febbraio © 1998-2006 by Ronald Keith

2011 Bolender 7
Talcott Parsons: The
Structure of Social Action
  Actors are confronted with a variety of situational
conditions, such as their own biological makeup
and heredity as well as various external ecological
constraints, that influence the selection of goals
and means
  Actors are governed by values, norms, and other
ideas such that these ideas influence what is
considered a goal and what means are selected to
achieve it
  Action involves actors making subjective decisions
about the means to achieve goals, all of which are
constrained by ideas and situational conditions
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2011 8
Talcott Parsons:
The Social System

The Social System

How do social systems survive?

More specifically, why do

institutionalized patterns of
interactions persist?
Parsons, Talcott. 1951. The Social System.
Glencoe, IL: The Free Press.
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Talcott Parsons:
The Social System

Pattern Development and Maintenance

  Adaptation
  Involves securing sufficient resources from
the environment and then distributing these
throughout the system
  Goal Attainment
  Refers to establishing priorities among system
goals and mobilizing system resources for
their attainment
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Talcott Parsons:
The Social System

  Integration
  Denotes coordinating and maintaining viable
interrelationships among system units

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Talcott Parsons:
The Social System

  Latency
  Embraces two related problems
  Pattern Maintenance
•  Pertains to how to ensure that actors in the social
system display the appropriate characteristics
–  Motives
–  Needs
–  Role-playing
  Tension Management
•  Concerns dealing with the internal tensions and strains
of actors in the social system
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2011 12
Talcott Parsons: The
Structure of Social Action

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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

The System of Modern Societies

A historical study of societal evolution as
evident in the stages of systematic
development within Western history.

Parsons, Talcott. 1971. The System of Modern

Societies. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

  Era One: Premodern Foundations of

Modern Societies
  The Christian church was the first crucible for
Western culture
  Rome--created a highly developed system of
  Medieval society gave witness to the decline
of tribalism and the rise of feudalism

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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

  From feudalism to a differential and

interdependent division of labor that marked
the European system
  During this process, feudal institutions came
to be replaced by early capitalism with some
growing centralization of political power
  Then came the Renaissance and the
development of secular culture within the
framework of a still vibrant religious order
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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

  Reformation: During this period, the

priesthood began to lose its exclusive
entitlement to the keys to the kingdom, an
event that signaled the advent of

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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

  Era Two: First Crystallization of the

Modern System
  Centered in the European northwest
(England, France, and Holland), which saw
the centralization of a form of state power
and the establishment of mercantile
capitalism. One noteworthy development here
was the coming of a pluralist political system
in England.
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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies

  Era Three: Age of Revolutions

  During this time, the industrial revolution
featured the expansion of financial markets,
while the democratic revolution saw the
spreading of the differentiation of rule by
people throughout Western Europe.

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Talcott Parsons: The System
of Modern Societies
  Era Four: New Lead Society
  Parsons argued that the promise of the industrial and
democratic revolutions could not be realized in
Europe because of its aristocratic, stratified, and
monarchal traditions. Primarily because of the lack of
such restrictions, together with its educational
revolution and political pluralism, the new lead
society is for Parsons none other than the United
States. It is here in his native land that Parsons
located the highest form of general adaptation, the
embodiment of the evolutionary principle that drives
systems and systematic theories.
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Talcott Parsons:
The Social System

Let us attempt to
apply these concepts
in an oversimplified
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