Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences

Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences

by Edward Shils, Talcott Parsons
     
 

ISBN-10: 0765807181

ISBN-13: 9780765807182

Pub. Date: 04/02/2001

Publisher: Transaction Publishers

This new edition introduces the social science audiences of a new century to one of the classic highlights of the mid-twentieth century. This is the most general statement of the general theory of action as it was developed by its principle exponent, Talcott Parsons, and his close collaborators who formed the core of the fabled department of social relations at

Overview

This new edition introduces the social science audiences of a new century to one of the classic highlights of the mid-twentieth century. This is the most general statement of the general theory of action as it was developed by its principle exponent, Talcott Parsons, and his close collaborators who formed the core of the fabled department of social relations at Harvard University. Toward a General Theory of Action is an extremely ambitious formulation of the ingredients, dimensions, and ranges that determine human behavior.

Parsons and Shils enunciate principles that are at the core of contemporary social science preoccupations-including the precarious balance between social integration and conflict. The volume is at once universal in intent and highly personal, an expression of Parsons' thought, one of the most notable sociological theorists of the century. Finally, the book symbolizes the interdisciplinary impulse that typified a widespread belief in the unity of the sciences. This edition includes the collaborative group's introductory statement, Richard Sheldon's essay on the theoretical and philosophical status of the general theory of action, and "Values, Motives and Systems of Action" by Parsons and Shils.

Guy Swanson, writing in the The American Sociological Review, noted that "Parsons and Shils have performed a major service in clearing away many old controversies, in showing the reasonableness of a behavioral foundation for general theory in social science as a whole and in sociology in particular, in clarifying the interrelations among many concepts, and in the insightful interpretation of particular pieces of data." It is testimony to this book's continuing significance that it continues to generate new lines of research and writings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765807182
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
04/02/2001
Series:
Social Science Classics Series
Edition description:
ABR
Pages:
265
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Editionvii
Prefacexxi
Part 1The General Theory of Action
1Some Fundamental Categories of the Theory of Action: A General Statement3
(1)Introduction
(2)The frame of reference of the theory of action
(3)Some fundamentals of behaviour psychology
(4)Interaction and the development of personality
(5)Cultural aspects of action systems
(6)The social system. A note on the place of economic theory and political theory in the general theory of action
2Some Observations on Theory in the Social Sciences30
Part 2Values, Motives, and Systems of Action
Introduction47
1Categories of the Orientation and Organization of Action53
Action and its orientation
Components of the frame of reference of the theory of action
Commentary on the frame of reference
Classification of objects
Orientation to the situation
Dilemmas of orientation and the pattern variables
The definition of pattern variables
The interrelations of the pattern variables
Classification of need-dispositions and role-expectations
Classification of components of the object situation
The basic structure of the interactive relationship
The concept of system and the classification of types of systems
2Personality as a System of Action110
Motivational concepts
Need-dispositions
Functional prerequisites of the personality system
Learning processes and performance processes
The mechanisms
Subintegrations in the personality system
The articulation of personality and social systems
Need-dispositions and role-expectations
Individuality
Deviance
3Systems of Value-Orientation159
The place of value-orientation patterns in the organization of culture
The classification of the elements of culture
Cognitive symbols
Expensive symbols
Evaluative symbols
Pattern consistency and sources of strain
The integration of systems of value-orientations into the social system
Systems of personal values
The problem of classification of value systems
4The Social System190
Major features and prerequisites
The foci of organization
The allocation of rewards
The integration of the social system
Classification of social systems and their components: structural types
The content of roles
Integration: consensus and power
The analysis of social structure
Motivation and the dynamics of social process
The problem of social change
5Conclusion234
Figures 1-15247
Index277

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