Talcott Parsons. An intellectual biography
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. 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.
1. Understanding The Structure of Social Action
2. Parson's sociology of national socialism, 1938-1945
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
5. Epilogue: a life of scholarship for democracy.