In this volume the author maintains that sociology must learn to combine the insights of both Durkheim and Marx and that it can only do so on the presuppositional ground that Weber set forth. Alexander maintains that the idealist and materialist traditions must be transformed into analytic dimensions of multidimensional and synthetic theory. This volume focusses on the writing of Talcott Parsons, the only modern thinker who can be considered a true peer of the classical founders, and examines his own profoundly ambivalent attempt to carry out this analytic transformation.
‘The most important volume ever published on Parsons.’ Theory and Society
‘Alexander’s analysis of Parsons is subtle, insightful and penetrating.’ Contemporary Sociology
Preface. 1. Theoretical Controversy 2. The Early Period: Interpretation and the Presuppositional Movement Toward Multidimensionality 3. The Middle Period: Specifying the Multidimensional Argument 4. The Later Period (1): The Interchange Model and Parsons’ Final Approach to Multidimensional theory 5. The later Period (2): Socialization, Social change and the Systemic and Historical Bases of Individual Freedom 6. The Methodological Error (1): Neopositivism and the Formalization of Parsons’ Theory 7. The Methodological Error (2): Neopositivist Strategy and the Conflation of Presuppositional Logic with Specific Commitments 8. The Presuppositional Error (1): Sociological Idealism and the Attack on Instrumental Order in the Early and Middle Work 9. The Presuppositional Error (2): Idealist Reduction in the Later Writings 10. Conclusion: ‘Paradigm Revision’ and Parsonianism. Appendix: Conflation and Reduction in the Interpretation of Parsonian Theory. Notes. Works of Parsons. Indices.