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Robert Merton July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003. Biographical Background Information  Birth name: Meyer R. Schkolnick  Born in Philadelphia to working.

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Presentation on theme: "Robert Merton July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003. Biographical Background Information  Birth name: Meyer R. Schkolnick  Born in Philadelphia to working."— Presentation transcript:

1 Robert Merton July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003

2 Biographical Background Information  Birth name: Meyer R. Schkolnick  Born in Philadelphia to working class Jewish Eastern European immigrant parents  While growing up in Philadelphia in high school, he became a frequent visitor of the nearby Andrew Carnegie Library, The Academy of Music, Central Library, and the Museum of the Arts  Best known for coining the phrases “self-fulfilling prophecy,” “role model,” and “unintended consequences”  It is a popular misconception that Merton was a student of Talcott Parsons, who was actually only a junior member of his dissertation committee along with Carle Zimmerman, George Sarton, and Pitirim Sorokin – a man who greatly influenced Merton  His sociological career began at Temple University studying with George E. Simpson and then under Pitrim A. Sorokin at Harvard  Dissertation was on the social history of the scientific development in England in the seventeenth-century  Merton was married twice, including once to fellow sociologist Harriet Zuckerman  He had one son and two daughters, including Robert C. Merton, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in economics

3 Honors and Recognition  Taught at Harvard then became a professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology at Tulane University (1939)  joined the faculty of Columbia University and became a Giddings Professor of Sociology (1963)  achieved the highest rank at Columbia University as a University Professor and later a Special Service Professor upon his retirement (1979)  One of the first sociologists elected to the National Academy of Sciences  First American sociologist elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences  Also a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (through which he received a Parsons Prize), the National Academy of Education, and Academica Europaea  1961 – received a Guggenheim fellowship  – the first sociologist to be named a MacArthur Fellow  Was awarded with honorary degrees from over twenty institutions including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Chicaco, and many universities abroad  1994 – received the U.S. National Medal of Science as the first sociologist to receive the award

4 Major Theories  Theories of the middle range “fills in the blanks” between empiricism and all-inclusive theory “fills in the blanks” between empiricism and all-inclusive theory Influenced by Weber and Durkheim Influenced by Weber and Durkheim  Clarifying functional analysis Functionalism is centralized in interpreting data by consequences for larger structures Functionalism is centralized in interpreting data by consequences for larger structures Society is analyzed with reference to cultural and social structures in regard to how well or badly they are integrated Society is analyzed with reference to cultural and social structures in regard to how well or badly they are integrated Influenced by Durkheim and Parsons Influenced by Durkheim and Parsons  Dysfunctions His work implies that all institutions are inherently good for society, emphasizing the importance and existence of dysfunctions His work implies that all institutions are inherently good for society, emphasizing the importance and existence of dysfunctions Approaches conflict theory Approaches conflict theory He states that we can only explain and discover alternatives to disfunction if we recognize the disfunctional aspects of institutions He states that we can only explain and discover alternatives to disfunction if we recognize the disfunctional aspects of institutions

5 Major Theories (continued)  Manifest and latent functions Manifest functions are expected or observed consequences Manifest functions are expected or observed consequences Latent functions are those that are not recognized or intended Latent functions are those that are not recognized or intended Merton sees attention to latent functions as increasing understanding of greater society in going beyond individuals’ motivation Merton sees attention to latent functions as increasing understanding of greater society in going beyond individuals’ motivation Says that dysfunctions can also be manifest or latent Says that dysfunctions can also be manifest or latent  Functional alternatives Like other functionalists, believes that societies must have certain characteristics to ensure survival Like other functionalists, believes that societies must have certain characteristics to ensure survival Merton emphasizes that other institutions are also able to fulfill the same functions Merton emphasizes that other institutions are also able to fulfill the same functions This is important because sociologists have become aware to the similarities between functions of different institutions and “reduces the tendency of functionalism to imply approval of the status quo” This is important because sociologists have become aware to the similarities between functions of different institutions and “reduces the tendency of functionalism to imply approval of the status quo”

6 Major Theory: Deviance Typology  Used the term anomie (from Durkheim) to mean “A discontinuity between cultural goals and the legitimate means available for reaching them.”  Ritualism is the acceptance of the means but the forfeit of the goals Ritualism  Retreatism is the rejection of both the means and the goals Retreatism  Rebellion is a combination of rejection of societal goals and means and a substitution of other goals and means. Rebellion  Innovation and Ritualism are the pure cases of anomie as Merton defined it because in both cases there is a discontinuity between goals and means. InnovationRitualism InnovationRitualism Image: Ryan Cragun 2005 (from Wikipedia)

7 Major Theory: Sociology of Science  Sociology of science Developed the Merton Thesis which explains causes of the scientific revolution and the Mertonian norms of science, identified commonly by the acronym “CUDOS” Developed the Merton Thesis which explains causes of the scientific revolution and the Mertonian norms of science, identified commonly by the acronym “CUDOS” CUDOS is a set of ideas that are, in Merton’s view, the goals and methods of science, including: CUDOS is a set of ideas that are, in Merton’s view, the goals and methods of science, including:  Communalism - common ownership of scientific discoveries, according to which scientists give up intellectual property rights in exchange for recognition and esteem Communalism  Universalism - according to which claims to truth are evaluated in terms of universal or impersonal criteria, and not on factors such as ethnicity, status, gender, or faith Universalism  Disinterestedness - according to which scientists are rewarded for acting in ways that outwardly appear to be selfless Disinterestedness  Organized Skepticism - all ideas must be thoroughly tested and be made subject to community scrutiny Organized Skepticism Organized Skepticism

8 Merton’s Publications  Social Theory and Social Structure (1949) Social Theory and Social Structure Social Theory and Social Structure  The Sociology of Science (1973) The Sociology of Science The Sociology of Science  Sociological Ambivalence (1976) Sociological Ambivalence Sociological Ambivalence  On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shandea Postscript (1985) On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shandea Postscript On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shandea Postscript  The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science (2004) The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science

9 Manifest and Latent Functions (1957) Robert K. Merton

10 Distinguishing Manifest and Latent Functions  there has often been confusion between conscious motivations for social behavior and its objective consequences  difference between motives and functions manifest functions: those objective consequences for a specified unit (person, subgroup, social or cultural system) which contribute to its adjustment or adaptation and were so intended manifest functions: those objective consequences for a specified unit (person, subgroup, social or cultural system) which contribute to its adjustment or adaptation and were so intended latent functions: unintended and unrecognized consequences latent functions: unintended and unrecognized consequences

11 Heuristic Purposes of the Distinction  clarifies the analysis of seemingly irrational data distinction aids the interpretation of social practices which persist even though their manifest purpose is not achieved distinction aids the interpretation of social practices which persist even though their manifest purpose is not achieved when group behavior does not attain its supposed purpose, there is an inclination to attribute its occurrence to lack of intelligence, innocence, etc when group behavior does not attain its supposed purpose, there is an inclination to attribute its occurrence to lack of intelligence, innocence, etc Hopi rain dance does not produce rainfall, it can be labeled as superstitious and the Hopi people viewed as primitiveHopi rain dance does not produce rainfall, it can be labeled as superstitious and the Hopi people viewed as primitive  concept of latent functions extends beyond whether or not behavior attained its purpose directs attention towards individual personalities involved in behavior, and the persistence and continuity of larger group directs attention towards individual personalities involved in behavior, and the persistence and continuity of larger group the Hopi rain dance ceremonial has non-purposed functionsthe Hopi rain dance ceremonial has non-purposed functions reinforce group identity reinforce group identity

12 Directs Attention to Theoretically Fruitful Fields of Inquiry  confinement to study of manifest functions sociologist will be concerned with determining whether a practice instituted for a particular purpose does, in fact, achieve this purpose sociologist will be concerned with determining whether a practice instituted for a particular purpose does, in fact, achieve this purpose  confinement to study of latent functions sociologist will examine the familiar (or planned) social practice to determine the latent, unrecognized, functions sociologist will examine the familiar (or planned) social practice to determine the latent, unrecognized, functions distinctive intellectual contributionsdistinctive intellectual contributions

13 Impact of Merton’s Theory  The discovery latent functions represents significant increments in sociological knowledge  findings concerning latent functions represent a greater increment in knowledge than findings concerning manifest functions, because they describe practices and beliefs which are not common knowledge  Precludes the substitution of naïve moral judgments for sociological analysis  moral evaluations in society are usually in terms of the manifest consequences of a practice or a code analysis is terms of latent functions, then, often run counter to the prevailing moral evaluations analysis is terms of latent functions, then, often run counter to the prevailing moral evaluations  proceeding from the functional Recommendation that we should ordinarily expect persistent social patterns and social structures to perform positive functions which are at the time not adequately fulfilled by other existing patterns and structures. Recommendation that we should ordinarily expect persistent social patterns and social structures to perform positive functions which are at the time not adequately fulfilled by other existing patterns and structures. The “publicly criticized organization” is, under present conditions, satisfying basic latent functions The “publicly criticized organization” is, under present conditions, satisfying basic latent functions

14 On Sociological Theories of the Middle Range

15 What does it mean?  Socialogical Theory refers to logically interconnected sets of propositions from which empirical uniformities can be derived.  Theories of the middle range-theories that lie between the minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance during day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that will explain all the observed uniformities of social behavior, social organization, and social change

16 Cont’d.  Middle Range Theory is principally used in sociology to guide empirical inquiry  Each theory is more than an empirical generalization-an isolated proposition summarizing observed uniformities of relationships between two or more variables

17 Role-Set Theory  Begins with the concept that each social status involves not a single associated role, but an array of roles.  Ex. UNC medical student plays not only the role of student vis-à-vis the correlative status of his teachers but also an array of other roles relating diversely to other in the system: other students, physicians, nurses, Duke students, social workers, medical technicians, and the like.

18 Cont’d.  Role-Set raises the general but definite problem of identifying the social mechanisms  Illustrates another aspect of sociological theories of the middle range.  Frequently consistent with a variety of so-called systems of sociological theory: Marxist Theory, functional analysis, social behaviorism, Sorokin’s integral sociology, and Parson’s s theory of action

19 Cont’d.  There is always a potential for differing expectations among those in a role set as to what is appropriate conduct for a status- occupant  The basic source of this potential for conflict is found in the structural fact that the other members of a role-set are apt to hold various social positions differing from those of the status-occupant in question.

20 Cont’d.  The assumed structural basis for the potential disturbance of a role-set gives rise to a double question: Which social mechanisms, if any, operate to counteract the theoretically assumed instability of role-sets and, correlatively, under which circumstances do these social mechanisms fail to operate, with resulting inefficiency, confusion, and conflict?

21 Total Systems of Sociological Theory

22 Cont’d.  Not enough preparatory work has been done to formulate a general sociological theory broad enough to encompass the vast ranges of precisely observed details of social behavior, organization, and change and fruitful enough to direct the attention of research workers to a flow of problems for empirical research.  Early sociology grew up in an intellectual atmosphere in which vastly comprehensive systems of philosophy were being introduced on all sides.

23 Cont’d.  Attempts to create total systems of sociology is a goal that is often based on one or more misconception of the sciences

24 Cont’d. 1. The first misinterpretation assumes that systems of thought can be effectively developed before a great mass of basic observations has been accumulated 2. The second misinterpretation about the physical sciences rest on a mistaken assumption of historical contemporaneity- that all cultural products existing at the same moment have the same degree of maturity 3. The third misconception is sociologist sometimes misread the actual state of theory in the physical sciences

25 Utilitarian Pressures for Total Systems of Sociology  The conviction among some sociologist that we must, here and now, achieve a grand theoretical system not only results from a misplaced comparison with the physical sciences, it is also a response to the ambiguous position of sociology in the contemporary society.  The misplaced masochism of the social scientist and the inadvertent sadism of the public both result from the failure to remember that social science, like all science, is continually developing and that there is no providential dispensation providing that at any given moment it will adequate to the entire array of problems confronting men.

26 Cont’d.  The urgent of immensity of a practical social problem does not insure its immediate solution  Necessity is only the mother of invention; socially accumulated knowledge is its father

27 Total Systems of Theory and Theories of the Middle Range

28 Cont’d.  Our major tasks today is to develop theories applicable to limited conceptual ranges- theories, for example, deviant behavior, the unanticipated consequences of purposive action, social perception, reference groups, social control, the interdependence of social institutions – rather than to seek immediately the total conceptual structure that is adequate to derive these and other theories of the middle range.

29 Cont’d.  If sociological theory is to advance significantly, it must proceed on these interconnected planes 1. By developing special theories from which to derive hypothesis that can be empirically investigated 2. By evolving, not suddenly revealing, a progressive more general conceptual scheme that is adequate to consolidate groups of special theories  Theories of the middle ranges hold the largest promise.

30 Social Structure and Anomie (1938)  Measure of “structural constraints on the ability to obtain socially valued goods, such as wealth, shape the possible range of individual responses.”  Cultural Goals  Institutional Norms

31 …cont. Cultural and Institutions  All societies governed in some way – HOW governed (institutions, folkways, etc.) determines integration and cultural values  Anomie – “normalness”  Demoralization (deinstitutationalization) – two parts of social group not highly integrated America and success…

32 Deviant Behavior Social strata – greatest pressure on lowest  Occupational opportunities largely confined to manual labor Because NO realistic out, cause for deviant behavior Because NO realistic out, cause for deviant behavior  Bigger cause: cultural emphasis and social structure inconsistencies (1) Incentives for success (2) Limited mobility towards goal

33 Modes of Adaptation Cultural goals Institutionalized means I. Conformity ++ II. Innovation +- III. Ritualism -+ IV. Retreatism -- V. Rebellion +/-+/- Typology of modes of individual adaptation + = acceptance - = rejection +/- = rejection of current values, replacement with others

34 CONFORMITY  Social order is maintained because modal behavior of members represent the cultural patterns, even if secularly changing  Behavior  basic values  society Society does NOT exist if no “deposit of values shared by interacting individuals Society does NOT exist if no “deposit of values shared by interacting individuals  Most common and widely diffused  Keeps society “rolling”

35 INNOVATION  Emphasis on success-goal  wealth and power  “occurs when the individual has assimilated the cultural emphasis upon the goal without equally internalizing the institutional norms governing ways and means for its attainment”  Drives both: business-like striving one side of mores and sharp practices beyond the mores

36 RITUALISM  Scaling down/abandoning cultural goals for personal aspirations Although one attempts to not have cultural influences, they abide by institutional norms Although one attempts to not have cultural influences, they abide by institutional norms  Not generally considered to represent a social problem  Fairly frequent because largely dependent upon one’s achievements  Ritualist: familiar and instructive Ex: “I’m satisfied with what I’ve got,” “Don’t aim high and you won’t be disappointed” Ex: “I’m satisfied with what I’ve got,” “Don’t aim high and you won’t be disappointed”

37 …cont. RITUALISM  Private escape Able to avoid dangers and frustrations of cultural norms Able to avoid dangers and frustrations of cultural norms Hold on to safe routines and institutional norms Hold on to safe routines and institutional norms  Lower-Middle Class Parents exert pressure to children about moral mandates of society Parents exert pressure to children about moral mandates of society Upward social mobility not easy to obtain Upward social mobility not easy to obtain

38 RETREATISM  Least common  “in the society but not of it” Ex: outcasts, vagabonds, chronic drunkards, drug addicts, etc. Ex: outcasts, vagabonds, chronic drunkards, drug addicts, etc.  Individuals have been assimilated by standards of both cultural goals and institution  not accessible  individual is shut off  Escape mechanisms: Defeatism, quietism, resignation

39 …cont. RETREATISM  Solution for deviant person: abandon both goals and means and become asocialized.  Condemned because “non-productive liability”  Positive side – minimal frustrations while seeking rewards Negative – socially disinherited Negative – socially disinherited  Adaptations are largely private and isolated

40 REBELLION  Collective adaptation  Presupposes alienation from reigning goals and standards  Ressentiment vs. Rebellion (1) hate, envy, hostility (1) hate, envy, hostility (2) powerlessness to express feelings (2) powerlessness to express feelings (3) continual re-experiencing hostility (3) continual re-experiencing hostility

41 …cont. REBELLION  Rebellion Involves genuine transvaluation Involves genuine transvaluation Experience of frustration leads to full denunciation of previously prized values Experience of frustration leads to full denunciation of previously prized values Ex: grapes.. Ex: grapes..  Key difference: ressentment condemns the object being craved; rebellion condemns craving  More likely to occur if: Institutional system is a barrier to satisfaction goals.  Goal: to stay a part of society, but transition between social groups

42 …cont. REBELLION  Myths: source of frustration Conservative counter-myth – not in basic structure of society Conservative counter-myth – not in basic structure of society Conservative myth – “nature of things,” any society Conservative myth – “nature of things,” any society  Rebellion and Conservativism work together – move toward/away from adaptation  Rising class, not depressed class.

43 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS  What is considered deviant behavior today? Are there similarities between the 1930s and the present? If there are differences, what made them change?


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