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The contribution of Talcott Parsons (1902–1979) to sociology can be differentiated into three theoretical elements: (1) a theory of order, (2) a theory of society as a production process, and (3) a theory of societal evolution.

The Theory of Order

Parsons's theory of order starts with his analysis of Hobbes's problem of order in his seminal work, The Structure of Social Action ([1937]1968). Hobbes's question was how social order in the sense of mutually expectable behavior and expectations of two or more actors in a situation is possible under the condition that each actor is free in choosing goals and means to attain his or her goals. Hobbes's prediction for such a situation was the war of all against all (state of nature). According to Hobbes, recognizing ...

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