Action Theory and the Human Condition by Talcott Parsons

By Talcott Parsons

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Similarly, administrative officials of a hospital may make many and complex decisions about the admissions of 24 SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH AND ILLNESS patients, the financial charges to be assessed against them, and various other aspects of the behavior of participants in the hospital social system, including physicians, nurses, and other health service personnel. The third primary type is of a different order from either of these two. " A striking type case of such a collegial association is a multijudge court of law; another is a university department or faculty.

Corporate action is - typically taken by the "democratic" procedure of one member, one vote. " In both cases, there is sharp contrast with "executive" decision-making. The collegial pattern of organization of professional groups is, in tum, linked with another common structural theme permeating the complex. This involves the professional individual in membership in a common solidary collectivity. This is most obvious in the case of the teaching function. The student is "admitted" to the college or school.

I hope that sufficient evidence has been presented to make it clear that a similar asymmetry is to be found in the teacher-student relationship with special reference to functions of higher education. Of course, this patterning extends far beyond the two or three cases just mentioned. Brief mention was made above of the legal situation where an ordinary lay person who has sufficiently complex legal problems to require the services of professional lawyers is, with respect to the performance of the function of advocating or protecting the lay person's legal rights, definitely not to be considered the equal of the attorney.

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