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Talcott Parsons was born in 1902 and died in 1979 of his time he was considered the most admired American sociologist Parsons was bread into a well-to do family and was given a strong educational foundation as a child His father was an American Midwest preacher and very academic As a student Parsons studied philosophy and biology he felt out of place though so transferred to sociology and economics As he excelled in these fields he began his studies in Europe giving him a wide view on different societies In Europe he examined the work of Weber and Marx and other German sociologists at a time when American sociology was rather parochial His work was so impressive that he got offered a job at Harvard University where he remained for the rest of his life Talcott Parsons was a key functionalist thinker His work contributes a great deal to the functionalist theory He argued that socialisation is the key to understanding human behaviour patterns The role of social institutions such as the family education religion and the media is to ensure the passing on or reproduction of socially acceptable patterns of behaviour The institutions do this by socialising people into key values of society they encourage social solidarity and social integration and they also control behaviour by reminding members of society about what counts as normality and deviance Parsons is the only modern sociologist to have produced as influential a body of work as the founding fathers- Marx Weber and Durkhiem His most important work is his book The Social System 1951 in which he saw human action as analogous in many ways to a biological system He argued society is like a human body every part has a function to do and all the functions together keep the structure going He identified four levels of action which are interlinked but can also be studied separately The biological system the personality system social
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