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Sociology 233 Theoretic Developments in Sociology II Term Paper Talcott Parsons vs Max Weber Social Action and Social System For Professor Ida Tjosvold By Layne Anderson November 23 2000 Among Talcott Parsons contributions to sociology and functionalism are his theory of action and Parsonss system levels His theory of action includes how societies are structured and fit together In this theory of action he includes four systems the cultural system the social system the personality system and the behavioral organism as a system Max Weber also has his interpretation of individual actions in the social environment along with their interactions in that environment Weber addresses these topics from a conflict theorist perspective although his more micro-sociological approach may seem as if it were from the symbolic interactions perspective Talcott Parsons addresses these topics from a functionalist perspective It is important to provide a thoughtful and critical comparison on how the topic of social action and social system are interpreted by these two theorists in order to better understand the topics Talcott Parsons Theory of Action will provide the clearest interpretation of how he would address the topic of social action In his theory of action there are four crucial elements First of all there is an actor The actor is the agent who will carry out the act and be engaged in the action The actor can be an individual or a collective group of individuals Secondly there is a goal The goal is the reason for which the actor is carrying out the action or the future state of affairs Thirdly the action must be initiated in a situation of which the trends of development differ in one or more important respects from the state of affairs to which the action is oriented the end The situation can be broken down into two simpler categories the means and the conditions The
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