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Talcott Parsons
An Intellectual Biography


  • Author: Uta Gerhardt, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany
  • Date Published: March 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521174589

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About the Authors
  • The American sociologist Talcott Parsons was often accused of being an overly abstract, even apolitical thinker, remote in Harvard's ivory tower. The controversial Parsons, in fact, emulated his mentor, the venerable Max Weber, in at least two respects: as a scholar he practised Wertfreiheit (scientific professionalism) and as a political activist he worked for the preservation and expansion of democracy. In this text, Uta Gerhardt traces this double commitment and links Parsons's scholarship to his politics. Utilizing rich archival material, she examines four periods in Parsons's intellectual life in the context of American history and society. From the New Deal and the rise of German fascism to the Second World War, through the McCarthy era and the Civil Rights movement, Parsons's overriding agenda was to develop both a sociological understanding and a defense of the development of modern democracy.

    • Utilizes letters, memoirs, and other archival material, much of which had neither been published nor mentioned before this book's publication
    • Was the first intellectual biography of Talcott Parsons to focus on his political activism and his work in the defense of democracy
    • Written in a fresh and lively style
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521174589
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Understanding The Structure of Social Action
    2. Parson's sociology of national socialism, 1938–45
    3. The Harvard social science war effort and The Social System
    4. A new agenda for citizenship: Parsons's theory and American society in the 1960s
    Epilogue: a life of scholarship for democracy.

  • Author

    Uta Gerhardt, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany

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