Talcott Parsons is considered to be the most contemporary of the classical theorists. He brought contemporary theory to the United States through his book The Structure of Social Action (1937). Parson's main interest was integrating the social and personality systems, in which he developed a clear sense of the levels of social analysis through four action systems: behavioral organism, personality, social system, and cultural system. His work has been marred by some basic confusion, specifically the mix of action theory and structural functionalism (Ritzer, 1992).
In the 1950ís Parsonís concepts of action theory began to disappear from his theory. It was at this time that a structural-functional theory took its place, in which "actors" were seen to be acting in a nonvolunteeristic manner, but constrained by social structures and cultures (Ritzer, 1992).
Towards the end of his life Parsons had a change in his theory when he adopted the evolutionary theory. He developed a paradigm of evolutionary change and derived three stages: primitive, intermediate, and modern. Parsons main reason for turning to evolutionary theory was that he was accused of being unable to deal with social change. Parsonís remained committed to the study of structures and functions (Ritzer, 1992).
This web page is devoted entirely to Talcott Parsons. It contains a biography of Parsons. However, it is currently under construction.
This web page is about social systems. It describes the idea of social systems; it is straightforward on facts and views about functionalist theories.
Talcott Parsons is a functionalist. This web page covers four functional imperatives and Parsonís view of each (pattern maintenance, goal attainment, adaptation, and integration). This web site also covers Parsonís views on social structure, dynamics of social equilibrium, problems of structural change, institutions and social evolution. It also contains suggestions for a sociological approach to theories of organizations, age and sex in the social structure of the United States.
This web page covers Talcott Parsonís idea of the role of theory in social research. It lists the principle functions of analytical theory in research. It also talks about Parson's "common system of ultimate ends" and the means-ends chain.
This web site discusses Talcott Parson's perspectives. It also discusses Parsons four action systems. It also speaks of Parsons as a cultural determinist. This site has information on the relationship of the cultural system and the social system according to Talcott Parsons.