The Social System

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Psychology Press, 1991 - Social Science - 575 pages
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Written by a pioneer in the field of sociological theory, whose first work, The Structure of Social Action, was a controversial and influential text when published in 1937, this book presents more recent advances in the author's work on the theory of action.
 

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Despite his reputation for run on sentences and incomprehensible writing I have to say I've read a lot worse. I found myself agreeing with the detail although I didn't agree with the overall framework. I don't agree with his functionalist world view and I still.think that he puts too little emphasis on structure. However he is brilliantly integrative and a delight for any intellectual who eschews Marxism but wants a framework from which to view the world and to reassure themselves that their worth it as intellectuals, (such a shallow lot). 

Contents

Culture Personality and the Place of Social Systems
1
II The Major Points of Reference and Structural Components of the Social System
15
The Organization of the Components into SubSystems
45
Invariant Points of Reference for the Structural Differentiation and Variation of Societies
77
Empirical Differentiation and Variation in the Structure of Societies
105
VI The Learning of Social RoleExpectations and the Mechanisms of Socialization of Motivation
138
VII Deviant Behavior and the Mechanisms of Social Control
169
The Problem of the Role of Ideas
220
The Communication of Affect
259
The Case of Modern Medical Practice
288
XI The Processes of Change of Social Systems
323
The Place of Sociological Theory Among the Analytical Sciences of Action
360
Index
374
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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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