Document Type


Publication Date



Talcott Parsons (1902-1979), Occupy Wall Street (Movement), Complexity, Systems theory, Ethics


Complexity theory can assist our understanding of social systems and social phenomena. This paper illustrates this assertion by linking Talcott Parsons' model of societal structure to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Parsons' model is used to organize ideas about the underlying causes of the recession that currently afflicts the US. While being too abstract to depict the immediate factors that precipitated this crisis, the model is employed to articulate the argument that vulnerability to this type of event results from flaws in societal structure. This implies that such crises can be avoided only if, in Parsons' terms, structural change occurs in the relations between polity, economy, community, and culture. The Occupy movement has called attention to the need for such fundamental change.


Presented at Human Complexity 2012 (1st Annual Conference on Complexity and Human Experience: Modeling Complexity in the Humanities and Social Sciences), May 30 - June 1, 2012, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The article based on this presentation is located here:

Persistent Identifier