Sociology 169-Study Guide-Exam1

Sociology 169-Study Guide-Exam1 - 1. Explain Talcott...

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1. Explain Talcott Parsons' theory of social action. First, discuss what rational-choice theory is and what it assumes. Then, explain how Parsons corrected this. Do not simply list each level. Demonstrate that you understand how Parsons was critiquing rational-choice theory and how he felt a theory of action would explain behavior more effectively. Throughout this discussion, it is recommended that you use an example or two to fully illustrate your grasp of Parsons' theory of action. Rational choice theory describes human behavior as a way of maximizing profit. In other words, individuals choose to do something by analyzing which act will get them more benefits. This is an economic point of view, they want to lower the costs and increase the benefits. Parsons thought that there had to be something else motivating people to act other than just simply rational thinking. He believed that everything humans do have to do with some other things that are happening around them. Parsons thought that what causes people to act is the structure that surrounds them. Parsons viewed society as a human body with different parts all with different functions but that at the end work together to create equilibrium in the body. These different “parts” in society could be individuals, organizations, culture, traditions etc. According to Parsons, each one of these acts cannot be separated from the other. In other words, he thought that there was a dependency in all these parts from all of the other parts to maintain equilibrium in society. Parsons definition on social system “A social system consists in a (1) plurality of individual actors interacting with each other. (2) In a situation which has at least a physical object or environmental aspect, (3) actors who are motivated in terms of a tendency to the “optimization of gratification” and who relation to their situations, including each other, is (4) defined and mediated in terms of a system of culturally structured Parsons think that shared symbols are a main part of social structure. Shared symbols could include many things but one of them is language. Without language individuals would not be able to exchange ideas and communicate. “This is the necessary condition for the emergence of culture” There are four levels in a Social Action System 1. Cultural (abstract) - Pattern consistency - Transmitted, shared, and learned 2. Social (level of interaction)- socialization 3. Personality ( individuals slightly unique) - “is the relational system of a living organism interacting with a situation” 4. Biological – environment. “Whether it snows or not.” It is good to mention that the social system job is to integrate people. It also organizes space, power, etc. Each of these levels has structures
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Sociology 169-Study Guide-Exam1 - 1. Explain Talcott...

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