subsystems model

Subsystems model (of action systems and social systems)click for a larger image
Fig. 34 Subsystems model (of action systems and social systems). As well as presenting the four subsystems, which according to Parsons all systems of action and social systems possess, this figure also indicates six main lines of interchange between subsystems as seen by him.

subsystems model (of action systems and social systems)

the four-fold set of functional ‘problems’ identified by PARSONS (1953), and deriving from Bales (1950), in which any system of action and all social systems and societies are seen as required to cope with the following (see Fig. 34):
  1. the problem of adapting to the external environment of the system (‘adaptation, in Parson's schema, and in concrete terms ‘the economy’);
  2. the problem of achieving system goals (‘goal attainment’, in concrete terms, the ‘polity’ or government);
  3. the problem of integrating the system (‘integration’, in concrete terms, communities, associations and organizations);
  4. the problem of maintaining commitment to values (‘pattern maintenance’, in concrete terms, the family, households and schools).

The working-out (often in intricate detail) of the relations between these analytical divisions formed a major part of the 'systems theoretic’ phase in Parsons’ FUNCTIONALISM. See also FUNCTIONAL PREREQUISITES, SYSTEM, SYSTEMS THEORY, STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONALISM, SOCIAL SYSTEM.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000