Contemporary articles citing Parsons T (1951) Social System
well, function, out, his, approach, central, concept, writings, version, example
- Reich, Wendelin. 2010. "Three Problems of Intersubjectivity-and One Solution." Sociological Theory. 28:1 40-63.
- Social thinkers often use the concept of intersubjectivity to mark out a problem of theoretical sociology: If people are unable to look into each others' minds, why do they often understand each other nonetheless? This issue has been debated extensively by philosophers and sociologists in three largely disconnected discourses. The article investigates the three discourses for isolable ideas that can be fitted into a sociological answer to the problem of intersubjectivity. An interactional solution, fully coherent with key insights from the discourses, is offered at the end of the article. Its main point is to identify coordinative interactional mechanisms that compel participants to ``make themselves understandable'' vis-a-vis their interaction partners.
- Abrutyn, Seth. 2009. "Toward a General Theory of Institutional Autonomy." Sociological Theory. 27:4 449-465.
- Institutional differentiation has been one of the central concerns of sociology since the days of Auguste Comte. However, the overarching tendency among institutionalists such as Durkheim or Spencer has been to treat the process of differentiation from a macro, ``outside in'' perspective. Missing from this analysis is how institutional differentiation occurs from the ``inside out,'' or through the efforts and struggles of individual and corporate actors. Despite the recent efforts of the ``new institutionalism'' to fill in this gap, a closer look at the literature will uncover the fact that (1) it has tended to conflate macro-level institutions and meso-level organizations and (2) this has led to a taken for granted approach to institutional dynamics. This article seeks to develop a general theory of institutional autonomy; autonomy is a function of the degree to which specialized corporate units are structurally and symbolically independent of other corporate units. It is argued herein that the process by which these ``institutional entrepreneurs'' become independent can explain how institutions become differentiated from the ``inside out.'' Moreover, this article offers five dimensions that can be operationalized, measuring the degree to which institutions are autonomous.
- Gross, N. 2005. "The Detraditionalization of Intimacy Reconsidered." Sociological Theory. 23:3 286-311.
- This essay challenges those strains of cot? temporary social theory that regard romantic/sexual intimacy as a premier site of detraditionalization in the late modern era. Striking changes have occurred in intimacy and family life over the last half-century, but the notion of detraditionalization as currently formulated does not capture them very well. With the goal of achieving a more refined understanding, the article proposes a distinction between ``regulative'' and ``ineaning-constitutive'' traditions. The former involve threats of exclusion from various moral communities; the latter involve linguistic and cultural frameworks within which sense is made of the world. Focusing on the U.S. case and marshaling various kinds of empirical evidence, the article argues that while the regulative tradition of what it terms lifelong, internally stratified marriage has declined in strength in recent years, the image of the form of couplehood inscribed in this regulative tradition continues to function as a hegemonic ideal in many American intimate relationships. Intimacy in the United States also remains beholden to the tradition of romantic love. That these meaning-constitutive traditions continue to play a central role in structuring contemporary intimacy suggests that detraditionalization involves the relative decline only of certain regulative traditions, a point that calls into question some of the normative assessments that often accompany the detraditionalization thesis.
- Segre, S. 2004. "Ethnomethodology in Italy." Sociological Theory. 22:4 647-661.
- This article provides an overview on works that have come out in Italy in the field of ethnomethodology. General introductory works are considered first, with reference to their similarities and differences. Subsequently, the interpretations and discussions concerning the ethnometholological perspective are briefly presented, and the limited amount of empirical investigations on ethnomethodological questions is mentioned. Garfinkel's ethnomethodology has been the object of a few specific introductory and interpretative contributions. The relationship between ethnomethodology and sociolinguistics has been a further and distinct research theme. Discourse and conversational analysis as a research field of its own has elicited a remarkable flow of research, which is-in contrast to ethnomethodology-not only methodological and epistemological but empirical as well. In particular, a number of authors have studied asymmetrical conversational exchanges in the institutional context provided by an Italian Court of Justice. Conversational analysis also has been instrumental in studying the production of social identity. In the final discussion, some theoretical points Italian students of ethnomethodology and the related disciplines have raised and discussed are presented in a condensed form.
- Donabedian, B. 2003. "The Natural Realm of Social Law." Sociological Theory. 21:2 175-190.
- This paper proposes criteria for distinguishing those types of social forms that are susceptible to lawlike explanation from those that are susceptible to interpretive accounts. The main criterion concerns the rankability of choice alternatives. The choice process is modeled as having two subprocesses. The first subprocess is a rational one in which unacceptable decision alternatives are eliminated, reducing the universe of alternatives to the set of interchangeably acceptable options, termed the admissible set. In the second subprocess, an arbitrary choice is made from the admissible set. In rational-choice settings, the admissible set consists of just one element, the optimum. However, this is clearly not the only possibility, as the example of language, with its plurality of interchangeable phonemic options, bears witness. The fundamental concept: At one extreme-the extreme of language-the admissible set is large and the arbitrary-choice subprocess dominates the rational-choice subprocess. At the other extreme-the extreme of rational-choice theory-the admissible set consists of a single element and the rational-choice subprocess dominates the arbitrary-choice subprocess. Social law has its proper home in those territories of human activity where the admissible set. is small; social interpretation has its proper home in those regions where the admissible set is large.
- Black, D. 2000. "Dreams of Pure Sociology." Sociological Theory. 18:3 343-367.
- Unlike older sciences such as physics and biology, sociology has never had a revolution. Modern sociology is still classical-largely psychological, teleological, and individualistic-and evert less scientific than classical sociology. But pure sociology is different: It predicts and explains the behavior of social life with its location and direction in social space-its geometry. Here I illustrate pure sociology with formulations about the behavior of ideas, ideas, including a theory of scienticity that predicts and explains the degree to which an idea is likely to be scientific (testable, general, simple, valid, and original). For example: Scienticity is a curvilinear function of social distance from the subject. This formulation explains numerous facts about the history and practice of science, such as why some sciences evolved earlier and faster than others and why so much sociology is so unscientific. Because scientific theory is the most scientific science, the theory of scienticity also implies a theory of theory and a methodology far the development of theory.
- Jasso, G. 2000. "How I Became a Theorist." Sociological Theory. 18:3 490-497.
- This essay tells the story of how the author became a theorist. It describes the central event-how one afternoon in the summer of 1976 the justice evaluation function jumped out of a regression equation-together with earlier theoretical influences and the new theoretical work it set in motion.
- Tiryakian, EA. 2000. "Parsons's Emergent Durkheims." Sociological Theory. 18:1 60-83.
- Parsons's training as an economist, his graduate stay at Heidelberg, and his participation in the Henderson seminar at Harvard provide major clues to his familiarity with Marshall, Pareto, and Weber-three of the four figures whose convergence forms the major theoretical achievement in The Structure of Social Action. But what led him to Durkheim, since Parsons did not study or reside irt France, yet read Durkheim in the original, remains an enigma. Without resolving the enigma, this paper argues that Parsons had a great deal in common with Durkheim, and equally important, that in his mature and late periods he found in his ``revisits'' of the later writings of Durkheim both inspiration and affinity. I argue that Parsons well deserves recognition as a major authority on Durkheim, and that both combined offer an alternative to the contemporary version of utilitarianism.
- Stark, R. 1999. "Micro Foundations of Religion: a Revised Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 264-289.
- In a major revision of my earlier theoretical work on religion, I attempt to identify and connect the basic micro elements and processes underlying religious expression. I show that all primary aspects of religion - belief; emotion, ritual, prayer, sacrifice, mysticism, and miracle - can be understood on the basis of exchange relations between humans and supernatural beings. Although I utilize a cognitive definition of religion, this new version of the theory is especially concerned with the emotional and expressive aspects of religion. Along the way I also clarify the difference between religion and magic and this sets the stage for explaining the conditions under which religion (but not magic) can require extended and exclusive exchange relations between humans and the gods, thus enabling some religions to sustain stable organizations based on a lay membership.
- Turner, S. 1999. "The Significance of Shils." Sociological Theory. 17:2 125-145.
- Edward Shils was a widely recognized but misunderstood thinker The original contexts of his thought are not well understood and greatly distorted by associating him with the concerns of Parsons. Shils provides a fully comparable alternative to the thought of Habermas and Foucault, with essentially similar roots: practice theory, the dissolution of Marxism in the twenties, and Carl Schmitt. Though Shils was indebted to the American sociological tradition with respect to these issues his sources were outside it: in Hendrik de Man, T. S. Eliot, and Michael Polanyi. It is shown how Shils responded to Schmitt's argument about the inherent conflict between democracy and liberalism in terms of an account of civility and tradition, and how this argument results in a critique of Foucault, Habermas, and collectivistic liberalism.
- Vandenberghe, F. 1999. "``the Real Is Relational'': an Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's Generative Structuralism." Sociological Theory. 17:1 32-67.
- An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of ``habitus,'' as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of ``habitus `` and ``field.'' To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field.
- Klausner, SZ. 1998. "E. Digby Baltzell: Moral Rhetoric and Research Methodology." Sociological Theory. 16:2 149-171.
- The ways in which values are assimilated to social research differ according to the theoretical frame of reference informing the research. An example from the writings of E. Digby Baltzell illustrates how a moral commitment shaped his assumptions al,out the nature of the social matrix and his research strategies. A Western moral rhetoric fares well if the researcher chooses a methodologically individualist framework. The framework assists a moral rhetoric by providing it with concrete rather than abstract social actors and with a basis for explanation in terms of motive rather than situational forces. Along the way moral statements can appear in the form of empirical generalizations and historical laws. Should sociologists deem ethically neutral social research desirable, this study suggests that concentration on scientific method, without exploring the value bases for selecting a frame of reference, is not a promising approach. A value analysis, especially around Weber's ``value relevance,'' may function propaedeuticly.
- Kalberg, S. 1996. "On the Neglect of Weber's Protestant Ethic as a Theoretical Treatise: Demarcating the Parameters of Postwar American Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 14:1 49-70.
- Although widely recognized as one of sociology's true classics, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism has largely failed to influence the development of sociological theory in the United States. Because it has been read almost exclusively as a study of the ``role of ideas'' in economic development, its diverse and multifaceted theoretical contributions generally have been neglected. This study explicitly calls attention to The Protestant Ethic as a theoretical treatise by examining this classic in reference to four major debates in postwar sociological theory in the United States. Moreover, it demarcates an array of major parameters in American theorizing. The conclusion speculates upon the reasons for the strong opposition to The Protestant Ethic's theoretical lessons and argues that a style of theorizing unique to sociology in the United States has erected firm barriers against this classic text.
- RAMBO, E. 1995. "Conceiving Best Outcomes Within a Theory of Utility Maximization - a Culture-level Critique." Sociological Theory. 13:2 145-162.
- Coleman's rational choice theory introduces the idea of a `'social optimum'' into sociological theory. This idea of conceiving best outcomes is central to the project of reasoned progress and is an important tonic against the postmodern doubt. The utility maximization approach is inadequate, however because it is locked into an analysis of social structures. As a result it cannot conceptualize common standards, which are essential to best outcomes. These are treated adequately only within a cultural analysis. Welfare economics has dealt with this problem of best outcomes for a long time. Its history with the problem verifies the insuperable difficulties in a conception of action as utility maximization. When Coleman generalizes that approach, he manages only to reduce standards to power. This is inadequate. Some implications of conceiving common standards as culture are discussed.