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Taylor & Francis
Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences / Edition 1

Toward a General Theory of Action: Theoretical Foundations for the Social Sciences / Edition 1

by Talcott Parsons, Neil J. Smelser


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765807182
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 01/31/2001
Series: Social Science Classics Series
Edition description: ABR
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Edward Shils (1910-1995) was distinguished service professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include Tradition, The Intellectuals and the Powers, and Toward a General Theory of Action. Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was one of most influential and controversial theorists of twentieth-century sociology. He served on the faculty of Harvard University for forty-five years. He developed the concept of action theory, which was based on voluntarism and analytical realism. He is also responsible for introducing Max Weber’s work to America. Some of his many works include The Structure of Social Action, The System of Modern Societies, and Politics and Social Structure.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Editionvii
Part 1The General Theory of Action
1Some Fundamental Categories of the Theory of Action: A General Statement3
(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
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
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
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
Figures 1-15247

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