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In his extensive introduction to this volume, Leon H. Mayhew brings a new focus and clarity to Talcott Parsons's work. Explicating Parsons on his own terms, Mayhew discusses the basic tools of Parsonian analysis and interprets the larger themes of his work. He provides a chronological account of the development of Parsons's thought, his presuppositions, and his position on the ideological spectrum of social thought.
Mayhew then presents twenty of Parsons's essays, touching on each of the major aspects of his work, including "action" theory and the celebrated four-function scheme. Other topics covered include the role of theory in social research, evolutionary universals in society, influence, control, and the mass media.
"Talcott Parsons on Institutions and Social Evolution will become a standard reference for those studying that development of his sociological ideas."—Martin Bulmer, The Times Higher Education Supplement