Robert K Merton Essay

993 words - 4 pages

Robert K. Merton Robert King Merton is an American sociologist who has revolutionised the way we think about sociology and mass communication. Merton¡¦s collaborative work with Paul Lazarsfeld, an Austrian-born American sociologist, is prolific and well recognised as his own individual efforts. Merton was born on July 5, 1910 in Philadelphia; Pa. Merton speaks English, French, German, Italian, and Latin. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1936. He won a scholarship to Temple University and then went on to do graduate studies at Harvard University working with Talcott Parson and Lazarsfeld. Soon after, he became a faculty member at Harvard. From 1939 to 1941, he ...view middle of the document...

He has also witnessed its decline.Merton is closely associated with the work of Talcott Parsons and Structural-Functionalism. Merton's work can be seen as an attempt to address particular problems inherent to that perspective. His work can be divided into four discrete, yet interrelated, areas: "h First, Merton's work on deviance is probably what most contemporary students of sociology will remember him for. Merton takes the concept of anomie from the work of Emile Durkheim and adapts for use in an analysis of motivations for crime and deviance in 20th century U.S.A. Merton's grid of goals and means is now prescribed reading for all students of the sociology of deviance. In Britain at least Merton's work has been given renewed authority. New Left Realism, one of the leading criminological theories in Britain, has justified much of its analysis of contemporary trends in crime using the work of Merton on anomie and culture."h Second, Dysfunction: Merton was critical of Parson¡¦s work to the extent that it made crude and absolute assertions. Briefly put, Merton contests three fundamental ideas of structural-functionalism: The problem of functional utility. The problem of indispensability which created a postulated of universal functionalism. As a consequence of these criticisms, Merton claims that not all social relations and institutions are functionally beneficial to 'social order' and it is only by empirical investigation. Analysing that sociologist can determine the role of an institution in society not by grand theorising alone."h Third, Middle-Range theories: Merton argued that sociologists might be better-employed designing and applying what he called middle-range theories. These theories would have as their central objective the analysis of empirical social reality. In this aspect of his work Merton was clearly suggesting that the grand theorising of the 'founding fathers' and his mentor, Talcott Parsons, be of limited value."h Fourth, the Sociology of Science:...

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