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Talcott Parsons: Functional Theorist

            Talcott Parsons is a functional theorist who took groundbreaking steps to integrate humanistic studies. Parsons was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and started his studies at Amherst. He received his BA in 1924 then studied in Europe. He completed his PhD in sociology and economics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He briefly taught at Amherst then acquired a position as a lecturer at Harvard. Parsons enthusiastically combined Harvard's sociology, anthropology, and psychology department into one called the Department of Social Relations (Allan, p. 21). This was quite a progressive move for someone in his field in that era. Allan (2013) states that he did this in order to, ".comprehend the totality of the human context and to offer a full and complete explanation of social action" (p. 21). Parsons is frequently noted as the source of much of the foundation for basic sociology.
             Parsons created the most generally utilized format for social theory by integrating and building his theories on the work of theorists before him. Parsons shaped the core of sociological theory in the twentieth century by the way he theorized, the problem he addressed, and the theory itself (Allan, p. 22). Parsons established the sociological concepts of the influences of cultural values and norms on people and how it affected social order. Parsons drew influence from Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Sigmund Freud in order to formulate his social theories (Allan, p. 24). He was the first sociological theorist to combine all of the previous humanistic studies into one comprehensible format. His format is commonly used and built upon by other theorists to this day. Parsons' main theory is that social order is achieved through commonly held norms, values, and beliefs (Allan, p. 27). He built his theories on this foundation suggesting that these factors are what drive human behavior and thus influence social order.

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