MERTON, ROBERT KING

MERTON, ROBERT KING (Meyer Schkolnick; 1910–2003), U.S. sociologist. Born in Philadelphia, Merton received his B.A. from Temple University in 1931 and his M.A. (1932) and Ph.D. (1936) from Harvard. A student of George R. Simpson, Pitirim Sorokin, and Talcott Parsons, he taught at Harvard and Tulane universities. From 1941 he taught at Columbia University, where for 35 years he collaborated with Paul Lazarsfeld, with whom he co-developed the Bureau of Applied Social Research. Merton was president of the American Sociological Association and a member of the board of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Merton, whose thinking was influenced by Marx, Durkheim, Simmel, and Weber, was one of the leading American theorists in the social sciences. Merton studied the sociology of science itself; in 1942 he developed an "ethos of science," which challenged the prevailing public perception that scientists were eccentric geniuses who were not bound by normal social constraints. Essentially, he interpreted the task of sociology as the understanding of the ways in which social structures shape and channel the values, attitudes, and actions of persons. Among the numerous concepts first formulated or felicitously reformulated by Merton are "theories in the middle range" (as against sweeping theories in the grand style); "manifest and latent functions"; "self-fulfilling prophecy," elaborating a theorem of W.I. Thomas; "role model"; "deviant behavior"; and focus groups. His most significant contributions can be located in four areas. First, he provided an objective analysis of various kinds of deviant behavior, which has been widely used in research on delinquency, criminality, and social movements. Second, he made significant contributions to the sociology of science, especially about the impact of religion on science, about multiple discoveries in science, rivalry among scientists, and unintended consequences of scientific discoveries. Third, he was interested in the study of bureaucracy, partly refining Durkheim's concept of "anomie," partly complementing Max Weber's structural approach with an analysis of the psychological consequences of bureaucratic organization. Fourth, he advanced the study of adult socialization, focusing especially on the activation of attitudes by key personalities and on the concept of the reference group. Generally, he emphasized the interdependence of theory and research; the collection of essays that he published under the title Social Theory and Social Structure (19572) is one of the most influential books in American sociology. In 1994 Merton was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Bill Clinton, becoming the first sociologist to receive that honor. Other significant publications of Merton include Science, Technology, and Society in Seventeenth Century England (1938); "The Sociology of Knowledge," in Gurvitch and Moore, Twentieth Century Sociology (1945); Mass Persuasion (1946); Continuities in Social Research (1950); Focused Interview (with M. Fiske and P. Kendall, 19522); Social Theory and Social Structure (1957); On the Shoulders of Giants (1965); Contemporary   Social Problems (with R. Nisbet, 19662); On Theoretic Sociology (1967); and The Sociology of Science (1973). He was one of the editors of Reader in Bureaucracy (1952) and wrote numerous papers, chiefly dealing with topics of the sociology of knowledge. -ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Mongardini and S. Tabboni (eds.), Robert K. Merton and Contemporary Society (1997); J. Clark et al. (eds.), Robert Merton: Consensus and Controversy (1990); P. Sztompka, Robert K. Merton, an Intellectual Profile (1986); R. Hill, Merton's Role Types and Paradigm of Deviance (1980); L. Coser (ed.), The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton (1975). (Werner J. Cahnman / Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Merton,Robert King — Mer·ton (mûrʹtn), Robert King. Born 1910. American sociologist who proposed that deviant behavior results when a society offers no acceptable means of achieving acceptable goals. * * * …   Universalium

  • Merton, Robert King — ▪ 2004 Meyer R. Schkolnick        American sociologist (b. July 4, 1910, Philadelphia, Pa. d. Feb. 23, 2003, New York, N.Y.), made wide ranging contributions to the field, especially the sociology of science; he coined such expressions as “self… …   Universalium

  • Robert King Merton — (* 5. Juli 1910 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania als Meyer Robert Schkolnick; † 23. Februar 2003 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Soziologe. Merton ist Vater von Robert C. Merton, dem Wirtschafts Nobelpreisträger von 1997. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert King Merton — Robert King Merton, sociologue américain né à Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie le 5 juillet 1910 et décédé à New York le 23 février 2003. Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Les prophéties auto réalisatrices …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Merton, Robert K. — ▪ American sociologist in full  Robert King Merton , original name  Meyer Robert Schkolnick   born July 4, 1910, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. died February 23, 2003, New York, New York       American sociologist whose diverse interests… …   Universalium

  • Robert King Merton — noun United States sociologist (1910 2003) • Syn: ↑Merton, ↑Robert Merton • Instance Hypernyms: ↑sociologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Robert K. Merton — Robert King Merton Robert King Merton, sociologue des américain né à Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie le 4 juillet 1910 et décédé à New York le 23 février 2003. Etudiant à Harvard, il a été l élève de Pitirim Sorokin et de Talcott Parsons. Il est le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Robert k merton — Robert King Merton Robert King Merton, sociologue des américain né à Philadelphie en Pennsylvanie le 4 juillet 1910 et décédé à New York le 23 février 2003. Etudiant à Harvard, il a été l élève de Pitirim Sorokin et de Talcott Parsons. Il est le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • MERTON (R. K.) — MERTON ROBERT KING (1910 ) Sociologue américain, professeur à l’université Columbia, Robert K. Merton est généralement considéré comme le principal fondateur de la sociologie fonctionnaliste. Réagissant à la fois contre le développement d’une… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • King — /king/, n. 1. Billie Jean (Moffitt) /mof it/, born 1943, U.S. tennis player. 2. Clarence, 1842 1901, U.S. geologist and cartographer. 3. Ernest Joseph, 1878 1956, U.S. naval officer. 4. Martin Luther, Jr., 1929 68, U.S. Baptist minister: civil… …   Universalium

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