The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Parsons, Talcott (1902–1979)

  • J. Goodwin
Reference work entry


Talcott Parsons was perhaps the most ambitious and influential sociologist of his generation. Parsons was born at Colorado Springs, Colorado, on 13 December 1902. He was educated at Amherst College (Massachusetts), the London School of Economics, and Heidelberg University, from which he received a doctorate in economics in 1927. Parsons served on the faculty at Harvard University from 1927 until his retirement in 1973. He played a key role in the organization of the interdisciplinary Department of Social Relations at Harvard (now defunct), serving as chair of that department from 1946 to 1956. Parsons was a prolific, if notoriously abstruse writer, producing more than a dozen major books and scores of articles on a variety of (mainly theoretical) subjects. His most influential works are The Structure of Social Action (1937) and The Social System (1951). Parsons died in Munich on 8 May 1979.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Goodwin
    • 1
  1. 1.