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The Talcott Parsons Reader



The Talcott Parsons Reader

Bryan S. Turner (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-557-86544-1 January 1991 Wiley-Blackwell 372 Pages

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Talcott Parsons has been one of the most influential American sociologists of the postwar period. Bryan Turner's selections from Parsons' work provide a comprehensive overview of his principal contributions and are grouped under the following subdivisions: religion and modern society; life, sex, and death; sociological theory; and American society and the world order.

These selections offer an exposition of the core features of Parsons' sociology and demonstrate his continuing relevance to critical issues today, including globalization, the place of American civilization in the world order, and the importance of sociological theory as an analysis of modern culture.


Introduction: The Contributions of Talcott Parsons to the Study of Modernity.

Part I: Religion and Modern Society:.

1. Christianity and Modern Industrial Society.

2. Belief, Unbelief and Disbelief.

3. Religous Symbolization and Death.

4. The Symbolic Environment of Modern Economies.

Part II: Life, Sex and Death: .

5. Illness and the Role of the Physician.

6. Towards a Healthy Maturity.

7. The Gift of Life and Its Reciprocation.

Part III: Sociological Theory:.

8. The Theoretical Development of the Sociology of Religion.

9. Evolutionary Universals in Society.

10. Pattern Variables Revisited.

Part IV: American Society and the World Order: .

11. Social Strains in America.

12. The Distribution of Power in American Society.

13. Order and Community in the International Social System.

14. Polarization of the World and International Order.

15. Youth in the Context of American Society.

16. Death in American Society.

17. Religion in Post-Industrial America.

Bibliography of Talcott Parsons.

Selected Bibliograpy (in English) on the Sociology of Talcott Parsons.

Chronologyy of the Life of Talcott Parsons.


"With this astute and illuminating collection, Turner demonstrates for contemporary readers why Talcott Parsons is regarded as the dominant sociological theorist of the mid-twentieth century, and one of the master narrators of modernity. Ranging from economics and global power to considerations of youth, sickness, and death, these empirically-oriented selections reveal the vast scope of Parson’s thought." – Jeffrey Alexander, University of California at Los Angeles

"Parsons once described himself as an ‘incurable theorist’. This excellent collection of essays reveals a practical sociologist possessing great insight into the modern condition. Professor Turner has done a real service in reminding us of the substantive issues to which Parsons’s theoretical efforts were ultimately directed, issues which are as central to the discipline now as when Parsons was writing." – John Holmwood, University of Edinburgh

* Most comprehensive collection of Parsons' work available in one volume.
* Provides a balanced perspective on Parsons' work, organized topically.
* Editorial features include introduction to Parsons' thought, extensive bibliography and chronology of his life and work