Robert merton social theory and social structure summary

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robert merton social theory and social structure summary

Social Theory and Social Structure by Robert K. Merton

Social Theory and Social Structure was a landmark publication in sociology by Robert K. Merton. It has been translated into close to 20 languages and is one of the most frequently cited texts in social sciences. It was first published in 1949, although revised editions of 1957 and 1968 are often cited. In 1998 the International Sociological Association listed this work as the third most important sociological book of the 20th century.

The book introduced many important concepts in sociology, like: manifest and latent functions and dysfunctions, obliteration by incorporation, reference groups, self-fulfilling prophecy, middle-range theory and others.
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Theory & Deviance: Crash Course Sociology #19

Other articles where Social Theory and Social Structure is discussed: Robert K. Merton: In Social Theory and Social Structure (; rev. ed. ), Merton.
Robert K. Merton

Social Theory and Social Structure

Robert K. Merton, one of the towering figures on whose shoulders contemporary sociology rests, died Sunday, February 23, He was Merton was born July 4, , and his extraordinary life story evokes both a very American trajectory appropriate to the holiday birthday and the universalism of science. Already devoted to tracing origins, he chose a first name after Robert Houdin, the French magician whose name Harry Houdini himself originally Erich Weiss had adapted. And when he won a scholarship to Temple University he was content to let the new name become permanent.

It is one of the most frequently cited works in the social sciences as it is a collection of theories and insights within structural — functional paradigm. Merton studied under Talcott Parsons at Harvard and later became professor at Columbia. In this work consisting of almost pages, the author develops a theory of deviant behavior linked to various types of social adaptations. Merton rejects the idea of grand theories for the discipline of sociology and introduces the notion of middle range theories falling between grand theories on one hand and narrow, empirical observation on the other. Like Durkheim, he focuses on objective facts and attempts to delineate objective consequences that are observable from subjective dispositions.

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From Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press, , pp. Our scrutiny of current vocabularies of functional analysis has shown how easily, and how unfortunately, the sociologist may identify motives with functions. It was further indicated that the motive and the function vary independently and that the failure to register this fact in an established terminology has contributed to the unwitting tendency among sociologists to confuse the subjective categories of motivation with the objective categories of function.

This is a copy of an article published in Sociological Inquiry 73 4 , Also available as pdf file. Robert Merton presented two not always clearly differentiated theories in his seminal explorations on the social-structure-and-anomie paradigm: a strain theory and an anomie theory. For although structural strain is one way to explain why deviance occurs in the context of anomie, it is not the only way. In particular, we argue that in his contributions on social structure and anomie Merton forwarded two distinct theories which he did not always clearly distinguish. First, there is presented a theory of anomie, referring to a de-institutionalization of norms that occurs when there is a disjunction between the emphasis on cultural goals and institutional means Merton , a Second, Merton also presents a strain theory of deviant behavior which holds that people are more likely to pursue illegitimate means to attaining culturally prescribed goals when they are blocked from accessing the institutionalized means to these goals Merton , a


  1. Fiacre G. says:

    Robert Merton took a standard functionalist view that there was a value consensus: that - through socialisation - we all share the same norms and values and life goals.

  2. Texcounttensa says:

    Mathieu Deflem: Anomie and Strain: Context and Consequences of Merton’s Two Theories

  3. Weiproherti says:

    Pictures that will make you laugh no exception to the rule

  4. Ruby M. says:

    Merton, Robert K. () Social Theory and Social Structure. sociological theory as a collection of critical summaries of past theories spiced with short.

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