Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rhoads, John K.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Durkheim; Emile; 1858-1917; Parsons; Talcott; 1902-; Pope; Whitney; Sociology--History


In 1937 Talcott Parsons published a monograph that has significantly influenced the course of theoretical sociology. In The Structure of Social Action he set forth a detailed analysis of the social theories of some well-known Western European thinkers and claimed to have detected a convergence in their ideas on a common, underlying perspective. Developing this theoretical perspective much further than they had done, Parsons made it the foundation of contemporary sociological functionalism and social system theory. Although Parsons' interpretations of European theory have elicited'much praise and substantial criticism, this thesis subjects his interpretation of Emile Durkheim to a more meticulous and extensive analysis and takes issue with Parsons' conclusion that Durkheim's works reveal a progression from one implicit theoretical perspective to another. In so doing it makes use of Whitney Pope's previous work addressed to the same general problem. As a consequence of the conclusions drawn about Parsons' interpretations, this thesis raises certain questions about his later theoretical constructions.


Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 136 pages




Northern Illinois University

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