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The International Reception of Parsonian Functional Theory

Tue, August 23, 12:30 to 1:30pm, TBA


Assessments of the importance of Talcott Parsons for sociology are highly ambivalent. Some speak of his complete dominance, while others speak, at least at times, of his total neglect. This study tries to evaluate, based on the facts, his reception in German-speaking sociology as an example of his reception internationally. Talcott Parsons had strong ties to German speaking sociology. In the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Heidelberg he came into contact with German sociology at an early stage of his career. Throughout his work, we see an interest in political and societal changes in the German speaking world where he frequently had guest-professorships, held lectures on several occasions, and was key speaker at important conferences. The two sociologists who dominated sociological theory in post-war Germany, Niklas Luhmann und Jürgen Habermas, were both greatly influenced by Parsons’ work, although in different ways. In hardly any other country have so many sociologists chosen Parsons‘ action theory or parts thereof as a central source for their own work. Our plan for a roundtable is to present a report on continuities in Parsonian action theory within German-speaking sociology and then have a comparative discussion of its status in Italian (Sciortino and Bortolini), Japanese (Yui), and French (Lidz) sociology. Our group will also be open to comments by other attendees who may have knowledge of its status in other countries where it is known to have some influence, for example, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, India.


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