Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives

9780138196233: Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives

This is the first of a two-volume study of societies that pursues and expands upon comparative problems and methods pioneered by Max Weber in order to apply and further develop the general theory of action. This theory is explicitly formulated in congruence with the major tenets of modern evolutionary biology, beginning with the notion that general patterns of culture serve as structural anchors of action systems in the same way that genetic patterns anchor species. In Parsons' view, genetic systems and cultural systems impose the major cybernetic limits within which human organisms can develop structurally independent personality systems and social systems. All of these analytically independent systems are seen to interpenetrate and articulate simultaneously in a hierarchy of control and a hierarchy of conditioning factors, so that the relatively "high information" systems exert organizing control over those lower information "high energy" systems that set necessary but not sufficient conditions underlying action.

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