Of his time, Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was considered the most admired American sociologist. Parsons was bread into a well-to-do family and was given a strong educational foundation as a child. Starting as a biologist, Parsons felt out of place and transferred to economics and sociology. As he excelled in these fields, Parsons began studies in Europe, giving him a wide view on different societies. He began teaching at Harvard, and there he exposed his sociological thoughts.
Although very controversial, Parsons' works had influences on all aspects of Sociology. He generally focused on social action and systems and believed that morality in social action is the main element to help preserve social order. In The Structure of Social Action (1937), Parsons developed earlier sociologists' views into a theory of social action, or the action theory. These ideas look into today's society and it's institutional structures, which work to clarify action and to gain from it. His second book, The Social System (1951), extends and further explains his prior theories, including a structural-functional strategy.
Talcott Parsons' functionalistic ways, influenced by Bronislaw Malinowski, became the center of debate. His beliefs were questioned and challenged by rival sociologists. His studies became even greater and his theories more significant. Until the time of his death, his principal aim focused on the systematic study of social action and it's components. He looked at the surrounding factors and if and why they influenced the social system. As an award before his death, Parsons received high honors for his accomplishments in sociology. Many people considered him the most intelligent sociologist of his era.
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