A Summary and Evaluation of Talcott Parson’s Functionalist Contributions
Functionalism came to the fore in North American sociology during the 1950s. This was a period of affluence, consolidation and growth in Western capitalism. Two leading functionalists of the North American Sociological tradition wereTalcott Parsons and Robert Merton. These and some of their other cohorts built on the works of the most significant forerunners of functionalism namely Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. This work would examine Parson’s functionalist contributions and criticisms leveled against it.
Talcott Parsons (1902 - 1979) was educated at Amherst College in Massachusetts and London School of Economics where Malinowski was lecturing and at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, where Max Weber had been Professor. In 1927 he took up a position at Harvard University where he remained for the rest of his academic career.