The Social System

Front Cover
Psychology Press, 1991 - Social systems - 575 pages
This book brings together, in systematic and generalized form, the main outlines of a conceptual scheme for the analysis of the structure and processes of social systems. It carries out Pareto's intention by using the "structural-functional" level of analysis.


Culture Personality and the Place of Social Systems
II The Major Points of Reference and Structural Components of the Social System
The Organization of the Components into SubSystems
Invariant Points of Reference for the Structural Differentiation and Variation of Societies
Empirical Differentiation and Variation in the Structure of Societies
VI The Learning of Social RoleExpectations and the Mechanisms of Socialization of Motivation
VII Deviant Behavior and the Mechanisms of Social Control
The Problem of the Role of Ideas
The Communication of Affect
The Case of Modern Medical Practice
XI The Processes of Change of Social Systems
The Place of Sociological Theory Among the Analytical Sciences of Action

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About the author (1991)

Talcott Parsons, an American sociologist, introduced Max Weber to American sociology and became himself the leading theorist of American sociology after World War II. His Structure of Social Action (1937) is a detailed comparison of Alfred Marshall, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Vilfredo Pareto. Parsons concluded that these four scholars, coming from contrasting backgrounds and from four different countries, converged, without their knowing of the others, on a common theoretical and methodological position that he called "the voluntaristic theory of action." Subsequently, Parsons worked closely with the anthropologists Clyde Kluckhohn, Elton Mayo, and W. Lloyd Warner, and the psychologists Gordon W. Allport and Henry A. Murray, to define social, cultural, and personality systems as the three main interpenetrative types of action organization. He is widely known for his use of four pattern variables for characterizing social relationships:affectivity versus neutrality, diffuseness versus specificity, particularism versus universalism, and ascription versus achievement.

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