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5088 -- MÜLLER, HANS-PETER

Die drei Welten der sozialen Ungleichheit: Belohnungen, Prestige und Citizenship. Ein Blick zurück auf Talcott Parsons und die funktionalistische Schichtungstheorie
Berliner Journal für Soziologie 12.2002:485-504

##The three worlds of social inequality: Rewards, prestige, and citizenship. Talcott Parsons and the Theory of Functional Stratification revisited
Talcott Parsons´s contribution to an analysis of social inequality seems to have had a strange destiny: it was either neglected as if Parsons had not contributed to the problem at all; or it was rejected as an allegedly useless kind of functional analysis of social stratification of modern societies. However, I argue, there is no single theory of functional stratification. Rather, there are at least three versions that have to be seen as separate approaches: First, the theory of rewards as it was developed by Parsons and, more important, by Kingsley Davis and Wilbert E. Moore; second, the theory of moral respect, that Parsons presented in two different versions; third, the theory of a balance of equality and inequality in modern societies that Parsons developed following T.H. Marshall´s theory of citizenship. The article presents a historic and systematic analysis of these three strands of Parsons´s contribution to the debate on social inequality. While the theory of functional stratification failed as a whole, I show that Parsons nevertheless anticipated crucial aspects of recent sociological debates, like the importance of the vagueness and fluidity of social stratification, or the crucial significance of education being the most important resource for a realization of individual life chances in modern societies.##

Keywords: Parsons, T., functional stratification, equality, inequality, rewards theory

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