Robert K. Merton: Sociology of Science and Sociology as Science

Overview

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century, producing clear theories and innovative research that continue to shape multiple disciplines. Merton's reach can be felt in the study of social structure, social psychology, deviance, professions, organizations, culture, and science. Yet for all his fame, Merton is only partially understood. He is treated by scholars as a functional analyst, when in truth his contributions ...

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Robert K. Merton: Sociology of Science and Sociology as Science

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Overview

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century, producing clear theories and innovative research that continue to shape multiple disciplines. Merton's reach can be felt in the study of social structure, social psychology, deviance, professions, organizations, culture, and science. Yet for all his fame, Merton is only partially understood. He is treated by scholars as a functional analyst, when in truth his contributions transcend paradigm.

Gathering together twelve major sociologists, Craig Calhoun launches a thorough reconsideration of Merton's achievements and inspires a renewed engagement with sociological theory. Merton's work addressed the challenges of integrating research and theory. It connected different fields of empirical research and spoke to the importance of overcoming divisions between allegedly pure and applied sociology. Merton also sought to integrate sociology with the institutional analysis of science, each informing the other. By bringing together different aspects of his work in one volume, Calhoun illuminates the interdisciplinary—and unifying—dimensions of Merton's approach, while also advancing the intellectual agenda of an increasingly vital area of study.

Contributors: Aaron L. Panofsky, University of California; Alan Sica, Pennsylvania State University; Alejandro Portes, Princeton University; Charles Camic, Northwestern University; Charles Tilly, Columbia University; Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council and New York University; Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, City University of New York; Harriet Zuckerman, Mellon Foundation; Peter Simonson, University of Colorado; Ragnvald Kalleberg, University of Oslo; Robert J. Sampson, Harvard University; Thomas F. Gieryn, Indiana University; Viviana A. Zelizer, Princeton University

Columbia University Press

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What People Are Saying

Margaret R. Somers

Craig Calhoun and his colleagues delve into the vast depths of Robert K. Merton's relatively unfamiliar writings, including those that are unpublished, and present us with an astonishingly complex and germane vision of sociological inquiry.

Margaret R. Somers, University of Michigan

Helga Nowotny

This collective work is a carefully crafted redescription of the intellectual 'travels and adventures' of one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century. Following Robert K. Merton's definition of serendipity, the reader will find unanticipated observations yielding an unanticipated kind of new knowledge. The book succeeds brilliantly in integrating the multifaceted yet deeply interconnected sociocognitive and semantic strands of the Mertonian oeuvre. With exceptional clarity, untapped conceptual resources for contemporary and future sociology are rendered visible.

Helga Nowotny, president, European Research Council

Kai Erickson

American sociology over the past century probably owes more to Robert K. Merton than to any other scholar. He taught whole generations of us how to see the world sociologically, think about it sociologically, and study it sociologically. The essays that make up this book, opening with the masterful introduction by its editor, Craig Calhoun, approach Merton from a number of different vantage points, and together they provide a striking intellectual portrait of this very special person.

Kai Erickson, Yale University

Michele Lamont

In this stimulating and informative volume, leading sociologists explain the range and lasting significance of Robert K. Merton's research for contemporary social science. An important read for those who want to build on the shoulders of giants without reinventing the wheel.

Michele Lamont, Harvard University

Margaret R. Somers

Craig Calhoun and his colleagues delve into the vast depths of Robert K. Merton's relatively unfamiliar writings, including those that are unpublished, and present us with an astonishingly complex and germane vision of sociological inquiry.

Helga Nowotny

This collective work is a carefully crafted redescription of the intellectual 'travels and adventures' of one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century. Following Robert K. Merton's definition of serendipity, the reader will find unanticipated observations yielding an unanticipated kind of new knowledge. The book succeeds brilliantly in integrating the multifaceted yet deeply interconnected sociocognitive and semantic strands of the Mertonian oeuvre. With exceptional clarity, untapped conceptual resources for contemporary and future sociology are rendered visible.

Kai Erickson

American sociology over the past century probably owes more to Robert K. Merton than to any other scholar. He taught whole generations of us how to see the world sociologically, think about it sociologically, and study it sociologically. The essays that make up this book, opening with the masterful introduction by its editor, Craig Calhoun, approach Merton from a number of different vantage points, and together they provide a striking intellectual portrait of this very special person.

Michele Lamont

In this stimulating and informative volume, leading sociologists explain the range and lasting significance of Robert K. Merton's research for contemporary social science. An important read for those who want to build on the shoulders of giants without reinventing the wheel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231151122
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: A Columbia / SSRC Book Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Craig Calhoun is president of the Social Science Research Council and University Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University. He received his doctorate at Oxford University and is the author of eight books and the editor of many more. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages, and his most recent publication is Nations Matter: Culture, History, and the Cosmopolitan Dream.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: On Merton's Legacy and Contemporary Sociology, by Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council and New York University1. Reflections on a Common Theme: Establishing the Phenomenon, Adumbration, and Ideal Types, by Alejandro Portes, Princeton University2. Mechanisms of the Middle Range, by Charles Tilly, Columbia University3. Eliding the Theory/Research and Basic/Applied Divides: Implications of Merton's Middle Range, by Robert J. Sampson, Harvard University4. The Contributions of Robert K. Merton to Culture Theory, by Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, City University of New York5. Culture and Uncertainty, by Viviana A. Zelizer, Princeton University6. "Paradigm for the Sociology of Science", by Thomas F. Gieryn, Indiana University7. A Critical Reconsideration of the Ethos and Autonomy of Science, by Aaron L. Panofsky, University of California8. Merton, Mannheim, and the Sociology of Knowledge, by Alan Sica, Pennsylvania State University9. The Ethos of Science and the Ethos of Democracy, by Ragnvald Kalleberg, University of Oslo10. Merton's Sociology of Rhetoric, by Peter Simonson, University of Colorado11. On Sociological Semantics as an Evolving Research Program, by Harriet Zuckerman, Mellon Foundation12. How Merton Sociologizes the History of Ideas, by Charles Camic, Northwestern UniversityList of ContributorsIndex

Columbia University Press

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