Talcott Parsons hat in “The Structure of Social Action” eine Beschreibung der Bestandteile sozialer Handlungssysteme vorgenommen, die einstmal sehr einflussreich gewesen ist. Eine interessante Wendung hat die Parsonsche Inventarliste sozialer Handlungssituationen bei Harold Garfinkel gefunden, dessen Buch man auch die beste Zusammenstellung des Parsonschen Konzepts entnehmen kann:
“One of the central claims of The Structure of Social Action is that all of the various social sciences essentially deal with systems of social action. The basic units of such systems, Parsons argued, are ‘unit acts’ which, in turn, are composed of the following irreducible elements:
(1) An Actor, the agent of the act.
(2) An end, a future state of affairs, which the actor seeks to bring about by the act.
(3) A current situation within which the actor acts and which he or she seeks to transform by his or her action. The situation is analysable into two kinds of elements: the conditions of action over which the actor has no control and the means of action over which the he or she does have control.
(4) A mode of orientation comprising at least one selective standard in terms of which the actor relates the end to the current situation.