The Idea Of Social Structure

Overview

Written and compiled by friends and former students, The Idea of Social Structure honors Robert K. Merton, considered one of the premier sociologists of the twentieth century. Along with Talcott Parsons and Marion J. Levy, Merton was emphatic in his use of the term "social structure"—however different they were in defining and refining the term. The chapters in this volume address many of Merton’s diverse sociological theories and, in turn, his theories’ impact upon a very large...

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Overview

Written and compiled by friends and former students, The Idea of Social Structure honors Robert K. Merton, considered one of the premier sociologists of the twentieth century. Along with Talcott Parsons and Marion J. Levy, Merton was emphatic in his use of the term "social structure"—however different they were in defining and refining the term. The chapters in this volume address many of Merton’s diverse sociological theories and, in turn, his theories’ impact upon a very large sociological territory.

The volume includes major statements on the context of working with Merton by Lewis A. Coser, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Robert A. Nisbet, and Seymour Martin Lipset, as well as memorable statements covering Merton’s interests in the sociology of knowledge and science, planning communities, medical education, relative deprivation, everyday life, political roles, and communication media. This is a powerful sourcebook for understanding the work of Merton and of his intellectual successors.

Nisbet called the decade of the 1930s among the most vital and creative periods in American history. It was certainly a period of intense struggle—political, military, and ideological. But the formation of modern sociology was without question one of the crowning achievements in the scientific evolution of the century. The volume is sharply focused on Merton’s work and deeply appreciative of the nature of his contribution. It is a landmark effort in the study of sociology as history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“[A]lmost all of the authors of the papers in the Coser volume were students of Merton, and unlike the millions who have read his essays, they know that there are other Mertons besides the theoretical essayist—Mertons that, in my opinion, far outshine the essayist. At least four other Mertons deserve acknowledgement: the teacher, the word lover or poet, the editor and the critic.”

—David Caplovitz, Contemporary Sociology

“Robert Merton was no doubt the best known figure within professional American sociology during the middle of the twentieth century… This Festschrift volume… contains not only a great many biographical encomiums, but a long section of essays “on the shoulders of Merton,” which generally review the various fields in which he worked, and a couple of detailed sociology of science studies of the growth of two areas in which he made especially famous contributions… [A]fter reading this book, I ended up appreciating Merton better than I had before.”

—Randall Collins, Contemporary Sociology

“In addition to a number of brilliant contributions, the volume both gives a deep insight into Merton’s thought and constitutes a catalogue of some of the main problems the sociology (more generally the social sciences) of tomorrow will have to face: building a better theory of human action; relating liberty, choice, and social structure without resorting to reductionism, either psychological or sociological; building a better theory of conflict and contradiction; and bringing sociologists to realize the indispensable complementarity of theory, method, and observation. The volume shows that these questions are some of those Merton asked throughout his work and to which, thanks to him, we are able to give better answers today than yesterday.”

—Raymond Boudon, American Journal of Sociology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412847414
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis A. Coser (1913-2003) began his career teaching at the University of Chicago followed by the University of California. Upon leaving California he went to teach for fifteen years at Brandeis University, where he founded the sociology department, before finally settling in at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He was the first sociologist to bring together the ideas of conflict theory and structural functionalism. He is a past American Sociologist Association president and author of many works, including Conflict and Consensus, Masters of Sociological Thought, and The Functions of Social Conflict.

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