This account of Talcott Parsons’s work clarifies his basic concepts and sets out their correlation. Dr Menzies believes that the philosophy of science working within the confines of the analytic-synthetic distinction tends to provide a rigid, static and sterile account of theories. He presents a more dynamic account of the scientific enterprise in order to come to grips with the amorphous nature of theory, and to provide the basic framework for his analysis of Parsons. Menzies argues that Parsons’s central problematic in The Structure of Social Action is utilitarianism in general and the classical economists’ account of the rise of capitalism in particular, and as such the book is not a reconciliation of positivistic and idealistic elements and these run throughout his subsequent work. Two major strands in Parsons’s work – the social action theory and the systems theory (structural-functionalism) – are separated and examined individually.
1. The Framework for Analysing Parsons 2. Parsons’s Voluntaristic Theory 3. Tying Man to Society: The Partially Social Image of Man 4. The Social Image of Man 5. The Patterning of Meaning: Pattern Variables and Functional Dimensions 6. Socialization 7. Social Order: A Problem Solved Too Well 8. Open Social Systems Theory or Structural-Functionalism 9. Some Analyses Using Both the Action and Systems Programmes 10. Conclusion