Talcott Parsons has been one of the most influential American sociologists of the postwar period, but he has also been widely criticized for, among other things, the alleged conservatism of his structural functionalist theory. 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.Turner's introduction defends Parsons as a modernist and the selections reveal that Parsons' sociology was neither abstract nor conservative, but rather addressed a range of major issues in the sociology of modern society. This Reader places special emphasis on medical sociology, his contribution to the study of politics and international relations, his concern for the human condition, his focus on culture, and finally his defense of general theory. The collection is supplemented by a complete Parsons bibliography and a selected list of critical works on his sociology.
The book clearly presents the core features of Parsons' sociology and demonstrates 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.
The editor is Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. He has held professional positions in Australia, Holland, and Germany, and his research areas are medical sociology, citizenship, and social theory. He has published numerous papers and books on the social thought of Talcott Parsons. Previous publications with Blackwell include The Body and Society (1984) and The Blackwell Companion to Social Theory (1996; second edition 2000). He is the foundation editor of the journal Citizenship Studies.