Bleg: Parsons, Popper, and the Austrians

29 October 2006 at 8:44 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

From Rafe Champion:

I am working up a paper on the way Talcott Parsons rediscovered the Austrian wheel of methodological individualism and the “action frame of reference” during the 1930s when he wrote “The Structure of Social Action” (1937). Karl Popper also picked up some elements of the Austrian approach (not surprisingly) including methodological individualism and “situational analysis” which is essentially the action frame of reference including subjectivism.

Can people help out with any cross references and citations between those three lines of work? The volume of literature in each of the three is immense, and in my reading of the principals there is next to no cross referencing.

I am not aware that Parsons ever cited Mises or Popper and their associates. Popper in personal communication described Parsons as a contributor to verbalism in the social sciences but did not cite him in print. Jarvie (of the Popper school) referred briefly to Parsons in the course of a protracted debate by sociologists and anthropologists over MI involving associates of Popper (mostly Watkins) and others. In that context Hayek was cited as an exponent of MI but there was no reference to Mises or the Austrian tradition generally. This appears to indicate a high degree of fragmentation in the field or at least a lack of collegiate spirit in recognizing the contribution of scholars in other schools of thought who are fellow travelers in some respects.

Any Parsons scholars out there who can help him out? If so, please write Rafe or, even better, post a comment below.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Austrian Economics, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Blegging « genericface blog  |  29 October 2006 at 3:37 pm

    [...] I found this via Organization and Markets. [...]

  • 2. David Gordon  |  31 October 2006 at 3:21 pm

    Parsons was a friend of Alfred Schutz, who was Mises’s student. Parsons and Schutz corresponded on methodological issues.

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