chapter  18
When Theory Tipped the Scales: Talcott Parsons and Associates
Pages 10

In 1952, the dynamo who co-founded The Free Press, Jeremiah Kaplan, had asked Parsons and Edward Shils, perhaps on the basis of their Toward a General Theory of Action, to put together an anthology of theoretical classics which could be adopted for textbook use. Neil Smelser's teacher at Harvard and also his co-author, Talcott Parsons, worked with a team of three other sociologists to produce in 1961 a monumental two-volume, boxed set for The Free Press of Glencoe called Theories of Society. Theories of Society was thus meant to provide precisely that Archimedean point on which to stand, even if it was superficially cast in Parsonsian terms. Political analysis gets its due, as does stratification, the sociology of religion, a great deal of attention is paid to "personality and social structure," and social change—despite Parsons' alleged inability to countenance it, especially in violent or revolutionary forms—is also canvassed at length.