chapter  3
50 Pages

A Charter for Modern Sociology: The Social System and the Ethos of American Democracy

This chapter delineates the three phases in Parsons's social thought. The conceptual schemes, theoretical approaches and American democracy are different in the three phases of this oeuvre between the 1930s and 1970s. The chapter focuses on the themes, which are the three problems: areas of social inequality, social class and race, culture in the broadest sense including civil society of which feminism is one issue and globalization from internationalization when one prominent theme is so-called risk society. Two main approaches in the analysis of social stratification are compared with Parsons's analysis of class and race. Parsons's analysis of conflict as he studies apartheid in South Africa, for one, proves a valuable antidote against such naive formulae. The chapter suggests how the John Goldthorpe approach might benefit from taking Parsons into account. It concludes that the work of Goldthorpe and his collaborators, the most advanced approach in the study of social inequality, can benefit, interestingly from Parsons's early work.