Best Known For:
- Regarded by many as the twentieth century’s most influential American sociologist.
- Laid the foundation for what was to become the modern functionalist perspective.
- Developed a general theory for the study of society called action theory.
Early Life And Education:
Career and Later Life:
Parsons is most well known as a sociologist, however he also taught courses and made contributions to other fields, including economics, race relations, and anthropology. Most of his work focused on the concept of structural functionalism, which is the idea of analyzing society through a general theoretical system.
Talcott Parsons played a major role in developing several important sociological theories. First, his theory of the "sick role" in medical sociology was developed in association with psychoanalysis. The sick role is a concept that concerns the social aspects of becoming ill and the privileges and obligations that come with it. Parsons also played a crucial role in the development of "The Grand Theory," which was an attempt to integrate the different social sciences into one theoretical framework. His main goal was to utilize multiple social science disciplines to create one single universal theory of human relationships.
Parsons was often accused of being ethnocentric (the belief that your society is better than the one you are studying). He was a bold and innovative sociologist for his time and is known for his contributions in functionalism and neo-evolutionism. He published more than 150 books and articles during his lifetime.
Parsons married Helen Bancroft Walker in 1927 and together they had three children.
- The Structure of Social Action (1937)
- The Social System (1951)
- Essays in Sociological Theory (1964)
- Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives (1966)
- Politics and Social Structure (1969)
Johnson, A.G. (2000). The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Biography of Talcott Parsons. Accessed March 2012 from http://www.talcottparsons.com/biography