Parsons, Talcott (1902–1979)

Talcott Parsons was the foremost exponent of systems functionalism in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. He stated that a social system refers to any unit in which numerous interactions occur, ranging from the interactions, or interchanges, that take place between people, to those that take place between societies. Scholars may view society as a social system and the institution of law as one of its component subsystems.

Parsons contended that to operate effectively and remain viable, all social systems or subsystems must meet four functional imperatives: (1) adaptation, (2) goal attainment, (3) integration, and (4) latency. While all social systems must satisfy all four of the functional imperatives, some subsystems (institutions) of total societies are particularly adept at performing one function. For ...

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