Robert King Merton (July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003) was an American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor. In 1994 Merton won the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the field and for having founded the sociology of science. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern day sociology.

Merton developed notable concepts such as "unintended consequences", the "reference group", and "role strain" but is perhaps best known for having created the terms "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy". A central element of modern sociological, political and economic theory, the "self-fulfilling prophecy" is a process whereby a belief or an expectation, correct or incorrect, affects the outcome of a situation or the way a person or a group will behave. Merton's work on the "role

model" first appeared in a study on the socialization of medical students at Columbia. The term grew from his theory of a reference group, or the group to which individuals compare themselves, but to which they do not necessarily belong. Social roles were a central piece of Merton's theory of social groups. Merton emphasized that, rather than a person assuming one role and one status, they have a status set in the social structure that has attached to it a whole set of expected behaviors.

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  • 1. [Talcott Parsons] Talcott Parsons (December 13, 1902 – May 8, 1979) was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973.
    Parsons analyzed the work of Émile Durkheim and Vilfredo Pareto and evaluated their contributions through the paradigm of voluntaristic action. Parsons was also largely responsible for introducing and interpreting Max Weber's
  • 2. [Social Theory and Social Structure] Social Theory and Social Structure (STSS) 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.
  • 3. [Sociology of scientific knowledge] The sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) is the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing with "the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity." The sociology of scientific ignorance (SSI) is complementary to the sociology of scientific knowledge. The sociology of knowledge, by contrast, focuses on the production of non-scientific ideas and social constructions.
  • 4. [Paul Lazarsfeld] Paul Felix Lazarsfeld (February 13, 1901 – August 30, 1976) was one of the major figures in 20th-century American sociology. The founder of Columbia University's Bureau of Applied Social Research, he exerted a tremendous influence over the techniques and the organization of social research. "It is not so much that he was an American sociologist," one colleague said of him after his death, "as it was that he determined what American sociology would be."
  • 5. [Middle range theory (sociology)] Middle-range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States. Middle-range theory starts with an empirical phenomenon (as opposed to a broad abstract entity like the social system)
  • 6. [Anomie] Anomie is a "condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals". It is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community e.g. if under unruly scenarios resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897). Durkheim never uses the term normlessness; rather, he describes anomie as "derangement", and "an insatiable will".
  • 7. [Strain theory (sociology)] In sociology and criminology, strain theory states that social structures within society may pressure citizens to commit crime. Following on the work of Émile Durkheim, Strain Theories have been advanced by Robert King Merton (1957), Albert K. Cohen (1955), Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin (1960), Neil Smelser (1963), Robert Agnew (1992), and Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld (1994). Strain may be either:
  • 8. [Structural functionalism] Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. This approach looks at society through a macro-level orientation, which is a broad focus on the social structures that shape society as a whole, and believes that society
  • 9. [Conflict theories] Conflict theories are perspectives in sociology that emphasize the social, political, or material inequality of a social group, that critique the broad socio-political system, or that otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies. It is therefore a
  • 10. [Multiple discovery] The concept of multiple discovery is the hypothesis that most scientific discoveries and inventions are made independently and more or less simultaneously by multiple scientists and inventors. The concept of multiple discovery opposes a traditional view—the "heroic theory" of invention and discovery.
  • 11. [Matthew effect] In sociology, the Matthew effect (or accumulated advantage) is the phenomenon where "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer". In both its original and typical usage it is meant metaphorically to refer to issues of fame or status but it may also be used literally to refer to cumulative advantage of economic capital.
  • 12. [Harriet Zuckerman] Harriet Zuckerman (born 19 July 1937) is an American sociologist who specializes in the sociology of science.
    She is Senior Vice President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and professor emerita of Columbia University.
  • 13. [Pitirim Sorokin] Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin (Russian Питири́м Алекса́ндрович Соро́кин; January 21, 1889, Turja north of Syktyvkar, Yarensk uyezd, Vologda Governorate (now Knyazhpogostsky District, Komi), Russian Empire – February 11, 1968, Winchester, Massachusetts) was a Russian American sociologist born in modern-day Komi (Finno-Ugric region of Russia). An academic and political activist in Russia, he emigrated from Russia to
  • 14. [Stigler's law of eponymy] Stigler's law of eponymy is a process proposed by University of Chicago statistics professor Stephen Stigler in his 1980 publication "Stigler’s law of eponymy". In its simplest and strongest form it says: "No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer." Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer of "Stigler's law", so as to avoid this law about laws disobeying its very own decree.
  • 15. [Georg Simmel] Georg Simmel (1 March 1858 – 28 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.
    Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?', presenting pioneering analyses of social individuality and
  • 16. [Émile Durkheim] David Émile Durkheim (French: [emil dyʁkɛm] or [dyʁkajm]; April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French sociologist, social psychologist and philosopher. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.
  • 17. [Bureau of Applied Social Research] The Bureau of Applied Social Research was a social research institute at Columbia University which specialised in mass communications research. It grew out of the Radio Research Project at Princeton University, beginning in 1937. The Bureau's first director was Austrian sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. The project took on permanent form as the Office of Radio Research, moving to Columbia in 1939. It was renamed the 'Bureau of Applied Social Research' in 1944.
  • 18. [Role set] A role set is anyone you have a recurring relationship with in your role. According to Goffman the "role set" is the various kinds of relevant audiences for a particular role. Merton describes "role set" as the "complement of social relationships in which persons are involved because they occupy a particular social status." For instance, the role of a doctor has a role set comprising colleagues, nurses, patients, hospital administrators, etc.
  • 19. [Historic recurrence] Historic recurrence is the repetition of similar events in history. The concept of historic recurrence has variously been applied to the overall history of the world (e.g., to the rises and falls of empires), to repetitive patterns in the history of a given polity, and to any two specific events which bear a striking similarity.
  • 20. [Self-fulfilling prophecy] A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and ancient India, it is 20th-century sociologist Robert
  • 21. [Obliteration by incorporation] In sociology of science, obliteration by incorporation (OBI) occurs when at some stage in the development of a science, certain ideas become so accepted and common-use that their contributors are no longer cited. Eventually, its source and creator are forgotten ("obliterated") as the concept enters common knowledge (is "incorporated").
  • 22. [Mertonian norms] CUDOS is an acronym used to denote principles that should guide good scientific research. According to the CUDOS principles, the scientific ethos should be governed by Communalism, Universalism, Disinterestedness, Originality and Skepticism.
  • 23. [Social structure] In the social sciences, social structure is the patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. On the macro scale, social structure is the system of socioeconomic stratification (e.g., the class structure), social institutions, or, other patterned relations between large social groups. On the meso
  • 24. [Manifest and latent functions and dysfunctions] Manifest and latent functions are social scientific concepts first clarified for sociology by Robert K. Merton. Merton appeared interested in sharpening the conceptual tools to be employed in a functional analysis.
  • 25. [Reference group] A reference group is a group to which an individual or another group is compared.
    Sociologists call any group that individuals use as a standard for evaluating themselves and their own behavior a reference group.
  • 26. [Merton Thesis] The Merton Thesis is an argument about the nature of early experimental science proposed by Robert K. Merton. Similar to Max Weber's famous claim on the link between Protestant ethic and the capitalist economy, Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of Protestant pietism and early experimental science. The Merton Thesis has resulted in continuous debates.
  • 27. [Robert C. Merton] Robert Cox Merton (born July 31, 1944) is an American economist, Nobel laureate in Economics, and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, known for his pioneering contributions to continuous-time finance, especially the first continuous-time option pricing model, the Black-Scholes-Merton formula.
  • 28. [Narcotizing dysfunction] Narcotizing dysfunction is a theory that as mass media inundates people on a particular issue they become apathetic to it, substituting knowledge for action. It is suggested that the vast supply of communications Americans receive may elicit only a superficial concern with the problems of society, while importance of real action is neglected, and this
  • 29. [Role] A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behaviours, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualised by people in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position. It is vital to both functionalist and interactionist understandings of society. Social role posits the following about social behaviour:
  • 30. [Social phenomenon] Social phenomena include all behavior influences or is influenced by organisms sufficiently alive to respond to one another.
  • 31. [Lawrence Joseph Henderson] Lawrence Joseph Henderson (June 3, 1878, Lynn, Massachusetts – February 10, 1942, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a physiologist, chemist, biologist, philosopher, and sociologist. He became one of the leading biochemists of the early 20th century. His work contributed to the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation, used to calculate pH as a measure of acidity.
  • 32. [Edwin Francis Gay] Edwin Francis Gay (October 27, 1867 – February 8, 1946) was an American economist, Professor of Economic History and first Dean of the Harvard Business School.
  • 33. [Social system] A Social system is the patterned series of interrelationships existing between individuals, groups, and institutions and forming a coherent whole..
  • 34. [Russell Sage Foundation] The Russell Sage Foundation is an American foundation located in Manhattan, New York City which funds and publishes research in the social sciences. Founded in 1907, the foundation focuses on labor markets, immigration, social inequality, behavioral economics, the U.S. Census and the Great Recession, among other subjects.
  • 35. [Boris Hessen] Boris Mikhailovich Hessen (Russian: Бори́с Миха́йлович Ге́ссен), also Gessen (August 16, 1893, Elisavetgrad – December 20, 1936, Moscow), was a Soviet physicist, philosopher and historian of science. He is most famous for his paper on Newton's Principia which became foundational in historiography of science.
  • 36. [George Sarton] George Sarton (/ˈsɑrtən/; 1884–1956) was a Belgian-American chemist and historian who is considered the founder of the discipline of history of science. He has a significant importance in the history of science and his most influential work was the Introduction to the History of Science, which consists of three volumes and 4,296 pages. Sarton's ultimate
  • 37. [Conformity] Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms. Norms are implicit, unsaid rules, shared by a group of individuals, that guide their interactions with others. This tendency to conform occurs in small groups and/or society as a whole, and may result from subtle unconscious influences, or direct and overt social
  • 38. [Criminology] Criminology (from Latin crīmen, "accusation"; and Greek -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of the nature, extent, management, control, consequences, and prevention of criminal behavior, both on the individual and social levels. Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in the behavioral sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, social anthropologists, as well as scholars of law.
  • 39. [Institution] An institution is any persistent structure or mechanism of social order governing the behaviour of a set of individuals within a given community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose, transcending individuals and intentions by mediating the rules that govern living behavior.
  • 40. [History of science] The history of science is the study of the historical development of science and scientific knowledge, including both the natural sciences and social sciences. (The history of the arts and humanities is termed as the history of scholarship.) From the 18th century through late 20th century, the history of science, especially of the physical and
  • 41. [Focus group] A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. The first focus group
  • 42. [Unintended consequences] In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences or unforeseen consequences) are outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularised in the 20th century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.
  • 43. [Abnormality (behavior)] Abnormality (or dysfunctional behavior), in the vivid sense of something deviating from the normal or differing from the typical (such as an aberration), is a subjectively defined behavioral characteristic, assigned to those with rare or dysfunctional conditions. Behavior is considered abnormal when it is atypical, out of the ordinary, causes some kind of impairment, or consists of undesirable behavior. who is normal or abnormal is a contentious issue in abnormal psychology.
  • 44. [Scientific revolution] The scientific revolution was the emergence of modern science during the early modern period, when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology (including human anatomy) and chemistry transformed views of society and nature. The scientific revolution began in Europe towards the end of the Renaissance period and continued through the late 18th century, influencing the intellectual
  • 45. [Empiricism] Empiricism is a theory which states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism and skepticism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence, especially sensory experience, in the formation of ideas, over the notion of innate ideas or traditions; empiricists may argue however that traditions (or customs) arise due to relations of previous sense experiences.
  • 46. [Role model] A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The term "role model" is credited to sociologist Robert K. Merton, who coined the phrase during his career. Merton hypothesized that individuals compare themselves with reference groups of people who occupy the social
  • 47. [South Philadelphia High School] South Philadelphia High School also known as Southern High is a public secondary high school located in the south section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the intersection of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue, just north of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex residential neighborhood, Marconi Plaza, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and near the Passyunk Avenue urban corridor of shops and restaurants.
  • 48. [Society] A human society is a group of people involved in persistent interpersonal relationships, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Human societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions;
  • 49. [Sociology] Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior, its origins, development, organization, and institutions. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, social disorder and social change. A goal for many sociologists is to conduct research which may be
  • 50. [Pace University School of Law] Pace University School of Law, commonly known as "Pace Law School", is the law school of Pace University, a comprehensive, independent, and diversified university with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. Located approximately 10 miles (16 km) north of New York City proper, Pace Law School is situated on a 13-acre (53,000 m2) landscaped campus of historic and modern buildings in White Plains, New York.
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