Thomas Edison State College
Professor Lawrence Katz
Talcott Parson developed an action system that sought to explain how order in the society could be achieved. He indicated that social order was possible if human beings were naturally inclined to act selfishly. Parsons action system is developed in light of four characteristics that he believed were necessary for all systems to exist. These are called adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latency or pattern maintenance summarized as AGIL (Ritzer, 2011). According to Parson a system should adapt to external environment, have and achieve primary goals, regulate interrelationships with component parts, and sustain motivation of individuals and cultural systems. All of these form hierarchy of conditioning factors and operate in environment consisting of ultimate reality and physical organic environment. They also form Parsons’ action scheme with high information at highest level, hierarchy of conditioning factors, and high energy at lowest level. Parson indicated that low levels provided energy or conditions necessary for higher level that in turn would control hierarchy of conditioning factor below it. Parson conceived social system from the smallest level and showed that this level comprised of interactions between ego and alter ego. This brings about key concepts necessary to achieve social order. These are actors, environment, culture, interactions and optimization of gratification (Ritzer, 2011). This portrays the situation in social order where individuals interact in an environment being motivated towards some goals. These interactions are determined by cultural structures and shared symbols. Parson also showed subsystems in the society and inclinations towards AGIL and these economy, polity, societal community and fiduciary system.
Parson conceived cultural system as consisting of cultures that bond different elements in the society. Cultures mediate interactions among actors as well as integrating personalities to the social systems. Cultures provide norms and values to social system and are internalized in individuals who are involved in interactions. (Ritzer, 2011). I believe cultural systems help solve problems of social order by controlling behaviors and interactions of people involved. If