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.

  • 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. [Anomie] Anomie (/ˈænəˌmi/) 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".
  • 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. [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,"
  • 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 and social psychology 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
  • 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. [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.
  • 12. [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.
  • 13. [Pitirim Sorokin] Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin (/səˈrkɪn, sɔː-/; Russian: Питири́м Алекса́ндрович Соро́кин; January 21, 1889 – February 11, 1968) 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 the United States in 1923. In 1930 at age 40, Sorokin was personally requested
  • 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". It states that no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer. Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer of "Stigler's law" to show that it follows its own decree.
  • 15. [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.
  • 16. [Georg Simmel] Georg Simmel (German: [ˈzɪməl]; 1 March 1858 – 28 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.
  • 17. [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
  • 18. [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.
  • 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. [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").
  • 21. [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.
  • 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. [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.
  • 24. [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.
  • 25. [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 formula.
  • 26. [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
  • 27. [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
  • 28. [Social phenomenon] Social phenomena include all behavior influences or is influenced by organisms sufficiently alive to respond to one another.
  • 29. [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.
  • 30. [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:
  • 31. [Social system] A social system is the patterned series of interrelationships existing between individuals, groups, and institutions and forming a whole.
  • 32. [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.
  • 33. [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.
  • 34. [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.
  • 35. [History of science] The history of science is the study of the 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.) Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who
  • 36. [Criminology] Criminology (from Latin crīmen, "accusation"; and Greek -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of the nature, extent, management, causes, 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.
  • 37. [George Sarton] George Sarton (/ˈsɑrtən/; 1884–1956), a Belgian-American chemist and historian, 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 ultimately aimed to
  • 38. [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
  • 39. [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.
  • 40. [Unintended consequences] In the social sciences, unintended consequences (sometimes unanticipated consequences , unforeseen consequences, or accidents) are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularised in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.
  • 41. [Institution] Institutions are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior." As structures or mechanisms of social order, they govern 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.
  • 42. [Empiricism] Empiricism is a theory that 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.
  • 43. [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
  • 44. [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.
  • 45. [Society] A human society is a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, 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;
  • 46. [Sociology] Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior, including 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. Many sociologists aim to conduct research that may be applied directly
  • 47. [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.
  • 48. [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.
  • 49. [National Medal of Science] The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics. The twelve member presidential Committee on the National Medal of Science is responsible for selecting award recipients and is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • 50. [American Dream] The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of
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