- Slides: 77
ROBERT MERTON July 4, 1910 – February 23, 2003
BIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND • Born Meyer R. Schkolnick in Philadelphia to working class Jewish Eastern European immigrant parents. • A frequent visitor of the nearby Carnegie Library, The Academy of Music, Central Library, and the Museum of the Arts. • • Changed his name while working as an amateur magician in high school. • Greatly influenced by Sorokin who chaired his dissertation committee, along with Carle Zimmerman, George Sarton, and Talcott Parsons. • Dissertation was on the social history of the scientific development in England in the seventeenth-century. • • Merton’s second marriage was to fellow sociologist Harriet Zuckerman. Began his sociological career at Temple University studying with George E. Simpson and then under Pitrim A. Sorokin at Harvard. He had one son and two daughters, including Robert C. Merton, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in economics.
HONORS AND RECOGNITION • • • Taught at Harvard, then as professor and chairman of the Department of Sociology at Tulane University (1939). 1941 - joined the faculty of Columbia University, became Giddings Professor of Sociology in 1963. 1974 - achieved the highest rank at Columbia University as a University Professor and later a Special Service Professor upon retirement in 1979. One of the first sociologists elected to the National Academy of Sciences. First American sociologist elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and Academica Europaea. 1961 – received a Guggenheim fellowship 1983 -88 – the first sociologist to be named a Mac. Arthur Fellow Awarded honorary degrees from over twenty institutions including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, and many universities abroad 1994 – received the U. S. National Medal of Science, the first sociologist to receive this award
MERTON’S MAJOR PUBLICATIONS Social Theory and Social Structure (1949, 1957. 1968) The Sociology of Science (1973) Sociological Ambivalence (1976) On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shandea Postscript (1985) The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science (2004)
MAJOR THEORIES • Theories of the middle range – “Fills in the blanks” between Abstracted Empiricism and Grand (all-inclusive) Theory (C. Wright Mill’s terms). – Influenced by Weber and Durkheim. • Functional and Dysfunctional analysis – Functionalism is central to interpreting data based upon consequences for larger structures. – Society is analyzed with reference to cultural and social structures in regard to how well or badly they are integrated. – Implies that all institutions are inherently serving for society, emphasizing the importance and existence of dysfunctions. – Approaches conflict theory. – Can explain and discover alternatives to dysfunction only if the dysfunctional aspects of institutions are recognized. – Influenced by Durkheim and Parsons.
MAJOR THEORIES (continued) • Manifest and latent functions – Manifest functions: expected or observed consequences – Latent functions: those that are not recognized or intended. – Attention to latent functions increases understanding of the larger society in going beyond individual motivation. – Says that dysfunctions can also be manifest or latent • Functional alternatives – Societies must have certain characteristics to ensure survival – Emphasizes that other institutions are able to fulfill the same functions – Important because this “reduces the tendency of functionalism to imply approval of the status quo”
MERTON’S CRITIQUE OF FUNCTIONALISM’S FUNDAMENTAL PREMISES
CONCEPT OF DYSFUNCTION What are Dysfunctions? • Defined as the consequences of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system. • Merton paid especial attention to their existence. • Important to be alert to and pay attention to the dysfunctional aspects of social practices and institutions. • Noticing dysfunctional aspects of society helps to explain the development and persistence of alternatives, often initially seen as problematical and or deviant.
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF THE MIDDLE RANGE • Sociological Theory in general refers to logically interconnected sets of propositions from which empirical uniformities can be derived. • Theories of the middle range-lie between the minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve in abundance during day-to-day research and the all-inclusive systematic efforts to develop a unified theory that will explain all the observed uniformities of social behavior, social organization, and social change
SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES OF THE MIDDLE RANGE • Theories of the Middle Range are principally used in sociology to guide specific empirical inquiries. • Such theories are more than simply empirical generalizations - isolated propositions that summarize the observed uniformities of relationships between two or more variables.
ANOMIE: MERTON’S RECONCEPTUALIZATION • Re-conceptualizes Durkheim's concept of Anomie. • Not necessarily an overall, or even localized breakdown in the normative structure. • The cultural system and social structure of society is basically intact, workable, functional. • In fact, to a certain extent, deviance represents the functionality of the system as an expression of functional alternatives. • Basic Premise: A disjuncture within the cultural system between the Goals (values) which define our lives and the culturally determined, institutionalized, legitimate Means (norms) for achieving them.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND ANOMIE • Merton argues that deviance results from the culture and structure of society itself. He begins from the standard functionalist position of value consensus – that is, all members of society share the same values. • Since members of society are placed in different positions in the social structure (e. g. they differ in terms of class position), they do not have the same opportunity of realizing the shared values. This situation can generate deviance.
CULTURAL GOALS AND INSTITUTIONALIZED MEANS • Members of American society share the major values of American culture, particularly the goal of success, largely measured in terms of wealth and material possessions. • In America the accepted ways of achieving success are through education, talent, hard work, drive, determination and ambition. • In a balanced society an equal emphasis is placed upon both cultural goals and institutionalized means, and members are satisfied with both. In American society great importance is attached to success; less is attached to how you achieve success. • Therefore, there is a tendency to “reject the rules of the game” and strive for success by any means necessary. In this situation where “anything goes, ” norms no longer direct behaviour, and deviance is tolerated if not encouraged.
(Adopted by Merton)
Merton’s Typology of Individual Adaptation explanation of deviant behavior Modes of Adaptation Conformity Innovation Ritualism Retreatism Rebellion Institutionalized Means + + -/+ Cultural Goals + + -/+ + = acceptance - = rejection +/- = rejection of current values, replacement with others
CONFORMITY • Social order is maintained because modal behavior of members represent the cultural patterns, even if they are secularly changing. • Behavior basic values society – Society does NOT exist if there is no “deposit of values” shared by interacting individuals. • These values are the most common and widely diffused. • They keep society “rolling”
CONFORMITY Members of society conform both to the goal of success and the normative means of reaching them. They strive for success by means of accepted norms and channels.
INNOVATION • Emphasis on success-goal wealth and power. • “occurs when the individual has assimilated the cultural emphasis upon the Goal without equally internalizing the institutional Norms governing ways and means for its attainment. ” • Drives both: business-like striving on one side of the mores and sharp “creative” practices on the other side of the mores….
INNOVATION This response rejects the normative means of achieving success and turns to deviant means, always questionable, often criminal. "Bernie" Madoff: former stockbroker, investment advisor, financier, and the former non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, and the convicted operator of the Ponzi scheme considered to be the largest financial fraud – $18 billion – in in U. S. history!
RITUALISM • Scaling down/abandoning cultural goals for personal aspirations. – Although attempting not to accept cultural influences, they abide by institutional norms. • Not generally considered to represent a social problem. • Fairly frequent because largely dependent upon one’s lack of achievement or ambition. • Ritualist: familiar and instructive comments: - “I’m satisfied with what I’ve got. ” - “Don’t aim high and you won’t be disappointed. ” - “I just work here; I don’t make the rules. ”
RITUALISM • Serves as a private escape: – Avoid dangers and frustrations of cultural norms. – Holds on to safe routines and institutional norms. • Often found in the Lower-Middle Class: – Parents exert pressure to children about moral mandates of society. – Upward social mobility not easy to obtain.
RITUALISM Ritualism: those who select this alternative are deviant because they have largely abandoned the commonly held cultural goals of success.
RETREATISM • May be least common form of adaptation • “in the society but not of it” – outcasts, vagabonds, chronic drunkards, drug addicts, street people, etc. • Individuals have assimilated standards of both cultural goals and institutional means not accessible individual is shut off. • Escape mechanisms: defeatism, quietism, resignation, detachment.
RETREATISM • Solution for deviant person: abandon both goals and means and become asocial. • Condemned because represents a “non-productive liability. ” • Positive side – minimal frustrations while seeking rewards. • Negative side – socially disinherited. • Adaptations are largely private and isolated.
RETREATISM Applies to ‘psychotics, autistics, pariahs, outcasts, vagrants, vagabonds, tramps, drug addicts and chronic drunkards. ’ They have internalized both the cultural goals and the institutionalized means, yet are unable to achieve success.
REBELLION • Collective adaptation. – Involves genuine transvaluation. – Experience of frustration leads to full denunciation of previously prized values. • Key difference: resentment condemns the object being craved; rebellion condemns craving. • More likely to occur if the institutional system is a barrier to satisfying goals. • Goal: to stay a part of society, but transition between social groups.
REBELLION It is a rejection of both the success goals and the institutionalized means, and it replaces them with different goals and means.
UNANTICIPATED CONSEQUENCES OF PURPOSIVE SOCIAL ACTION • Crucial innovation to the field of Sociology. • A look at unanticipated consequences. • Social actions have both intended and unintended consequences. • Discovery requires sociological analysis. • Can be both negative and beneficial. Example: Aspirin, used most commonly as pain reliever Unanticipated consequence: aspirin is also an anti-coagulant which can help reduce the risk of a heart-attack.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE: In WW II, many battles took place on or near the shore. Artillery on land firing at a battleship at sea with the intention of sinking the ship. Beneficial Consequence The sinking battleships created a permanent home to the creatures of the sea as it acted as an artificial coral reef. Negative Consequence The oil from the battleships pollute the ocean water. This can lead to environmental hazards and to the death of many species.
DISTINGUISHING MANIFEST AND LATENT FUNCTIONS • There is often confusion between the conscious motivations of social behavior and its objective consequences. • Difference between motives and functions: – Manifest Functions: intended and objective consequences for a specified unit (person, subgroup, social or cultural system) which contribute to its adjustment or adaptation. – Latent Functions: unintended and unrecognized consequences.
HEURISTIC PURPOSES OF THE DISTINCTION • Clarifies the analysis of seemingly irrational data: – Distinction aids the interpretation of social practices which persist even though their manifest purpose is not achieved. – When group behavior does not attain its supposed purpose, there is an inclination to attribute its occurrence to lack of intelligence, innocence, naiveté. – Concept of latent functions extends beyond whether or not behavior attained its purpose. – Directs attention towards individual personalities involved in behavior, and the persistence and continuity of the larger group.
EXAMPLES #1. Hopi rain dance does not produce rainfall, so it is labeled as superstitious and the Hopi people are viewed as ignorant or primitive. However, the Hopi rain dance ceremonial has nonpurposed, latent functions - reinforces group identity, reaffirms group norms, provides a communal experience of the Sacred with all that implies. #2. As recently as the 1980’s the average birth rate in the India was 4. 6 children per family, resulting in an apparent national overpopulation and so was seen as irrational and counter-productive to social development. What’s a functional explanation…?
A functional explanation… In the 1980’s the average Indian male could expect a number of years of unemployment when he got older. India had no social security program and the typical worker did not earn enough to save for these unemployed years. His only hope, then, was to be provided for by his children. It took an average of 1. 1 wage earners to support one unemployed adult at minimum subsistence, but because it takes two to produce a child, each family needed at least 2. 2 wage-earning children. Because half the children born were female, and females were essentially unemployable in India at the time, 4. 4 children were required. To cover infant and child mortality, this number had to be adjusted upward to 4. 6 children. Clearly, nobody was figuring this out on an explicit basis. It represents a dramatic example of a latent social phenomenon, both functional and dysfunctional.
IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY • If confined to the study of manifest functions: – the sociologist will be concerned with determining whether a practice instituted for a particular purpose does, in fact, achieve this purpose. • Once expanded to the study of latent functions: – the sociologist will examine the familiar (or planned) social practice to determine the latent, unrecognized, functions and make distinctive intellectual contributions
IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY • Findings concerning latent functions represent an increment in knowledge because they describe practices and beliefs in terms which are not common knowledge. • They preclude the substitution of naïve moral judgments for thoughtful sociological analysis. • Naïve moral judgments in society usually result from the manifest consequences of a social practice or code of behavior not critically examined.
IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY • Analysis in terms of latent functions, then, often runs counter to the prevailing moral evaluations. • Considered from the functional viewpoint: – Persistent social patterns and social structures perform positive functions which, at the time, are not adequately fulfilled by other existing patterns and structures. – Publicly criticized behaviors and organizations – often defined as deviant – are, under present conditions, very likely satisfying basic and important latent functions.
MULTIPLE VARIABLES TO CONSIDER SIMULTANEOUSLY
MERTON’S GENERAL PARADIGM OF SOCIOLOGICAL / STRUCTURAL AMBIVALENCE: STRUCTURALLY CREATED STRAIN “opposing normative tendencies in the social definition of a role or status”
THE PARADIGM IN GENERAL: In its most extended form: Incompatible normative expectations of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior are assigned to a status or to a set of statuses. In its most restricted form: Incompatible normative expectations are incorporated within a single role of a single status.
SPECIFIC CONFLICTS & CONTRADICTIONS • Conflict among statuses within a status-set: a pattern of conflict of interests or of values within the status-set. • Conflict between several roles associated with a particular status. • Contradictions among general cultural values held by all members of society, i. e. , not specific to a particular status.
SPECIFIC CONFLICTS & CONTRADICTIONS • Conflict or disjunction between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these aspirations (the opportunity structure). • Contradiction or conflict between cross-cultural statuses. • Contradiction or conflict between reference group anchors or identifications.
ROLE-SET THEORY • Begins with the concept that each social status involves not a single associated role, but an array of roles (a role-set). • Example: A medical student plays not only the role of student vis-à-vis the correlative status of his teachers but also an array of other roles relating diversely to others in the system: other medical students, physicians, nurses, social workers, medical technicians, non-medical students, university administrative personnel, and the like.
ROLE-SET THEORY • Role-Set theory raises the general but definite problem of identifying the social mechanisms which create and alleviate conflict. • Illustrates another aspect of sociological theories of the middle range. • Largely consistent with a variety of schools of sociological theory: Marxist theory, structural functional analysis, social behaviorism, Sorokin’s integral sociology, and Parson’s s theory of action.
ROLE-SET THEORY • There is always a potential for differing expectations among those in a role-set as to what is appropriate conduct for a status -occupant given that other members of a role-set hold various social positions differing from those of the status-occupant in question. • This gives rise to a double question: What social mechanisms, if any, operate to counteract the potential instability of rolesets and, correlatively, under which circumstances do these social mechanisms fail to operate, with resulting inefficiency, confusion, and conflict?
Individuals as Status-Occupants status-sets role-sets norm-clusters
SOCIOLOGY: SOCIOLOGYSSS A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
Obligations and Responsibilities Normative Expectations (Rules) SOCIAL STATUS Cognitive Attributes: Beliefs, Values, Motivations and Attitudes Interests Power & Authority Social Capital
Obligations and Responsibilities What am I supposed to do? Where do these come from? SOCIAL STATUS How do they change over historical time? – i. e. , fathers and parenting. Individuals who occupy a given status must take these into account. The extent to which individuals who occupy a given status live up to the responsibilities and obligations that are called for varies.
Normative Expectations (Rules) How am I supposed to do all this? Guidelines, rules for social conduct. SOCIAL STATUS They indicate how one “ought” to act or behave in social settings: Prescribed - Proscribed Permitted - Preferred Norms vary from one culture to another. Norms vary from one sub-culture to another. Norms vary over historical time.
Normative Expectations (Rules) How am I supposed to do all this? Do not confuse “norms” with actual action or behavior. SOCIAL STATUS The extent to which people consider norms legitimate varies. The extent to which people comply with norms varies. Norms vary in their importance: Folkways - norms for routine or casual interactions Mores - norms derived from moral values Taboos - norms that place behavior out of bounds Laws - norms that are codified and are sanctioned
Obligations and Responsibilities [What am I supposed to do? ] Normative Expectations (Rules) [How am I supposed to do all this? ] SOCIAL STATUS Cognitive Attributes: Beliefs, Values, Motivations and Attitudes Mutually reinforcing and reciprocal Expectations. Whether we recognize it or not, we possess a vast storehouse of “social knowledge” and, to varying degrees, know what is expected of us & what to expect of others. S T A B I L I T Y
Interests Conflict is built into society SOCIAL STATUS Conflict is built into the very fabric of society. It is as normal - and healthy - as the air we breathe and usually occurs in socially patterned ways. By virtue of occupying different Positions, people will have different sets of LEGITIMATE interests, values and attitudes. Thus a great deal of conflict in society is structured: it is the result of people – status-occupants – trying to live up to the expectations placed upon them.
Interests Conflict is built into society If conflict is built into the very fabric of society, how is it managed? SOCIAL STATUS What are the patterns and functions of conflict? How are conflicts – whether legitimate or Not – resolved?
Power & Authority Both are necessary for society Power: the capacity to impose one’s will over others, even against the resistance of others; coercion. SOCIAL STATUS Authority: the capacity to have others comply with your wishes - even if they would prefer not to - because they recognize the legitimacy of the request. Power and authority are usually not individual attributes, they are located in the positions people occupy; i. e. , U. S. President. The extent to which power and authority are exercised by status-occupants varies.
Power & Authority Both are necessary for society Power and authority are not equally distributed in all social statuses: SOCIAL STATUS employer - employee male - female professor - student dean - professor wealthy - poor white - non-white As a result, we should expect to find different outcomes in society, as indeed we do: racial disparities in criminal sentencing unequal pay for men and women
Social Capital Access to Opportunities and Resources Inequality is built into society “Central or Controlling Statuses” SOCIAL STATUS Different statuses provide occupants different degrees of access to resources and opportunities - some more, some less. Examples: the double standard the opportunity structure the glass ceiling
MASTER AND DOMINANT STATUSES Master Status: that status within an individual’s status-set that has special importance for social identity, often shaping a person’s entire life. Dominant Status: that status within an individual’s status-set that is given priority when the behavioral expectations associated with two or more statuses come into conflict. Salient Status: that status within an individual’s status-set that is elicited in a particular situation.
An Illustration of Multiple Statuses from THE STATUE WITHIN: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by François Jacob (1920 – 2013) In the following excerpt, Professor of Medicine and Nobel Prize Laureate François Jacob reflects on what has been an obviously dramatic life. I have portrayed his “series of selves” as a series of statuses which he has occupied and/or transitioned through in his life sequence….
§ I see my life less as continuity than as a series of different selves – I might almost say strangers. § At the end of the line, I see the little boy, the only child, cajoled by a sweet mother, spoiled by all, playing (too often alone) while mouthing words that he tries out and twists ad infinitum. Then comes the adolescent, swollen with vanity, full of ambition, a shade backward with girls. § Then, the medical student preparing to become a surgeon. § The fighting man of the French forces, thrown across North Africa with an infantry battalion from Chad. § The wreck of a man, lacerated by grenades, who returns to Paris and make a stab at 10 different professions. § The beginner at the Pasteur Institute, discovering in awe the world of research and biology. All this gang marching in single file….
François Jacob continues… I have trouble imaging that, when the name Francois Jacob is called, all these selves can leap up and answer, “Present!” When I come across my name in a report card, a military document, or an old newspaper article, it seems to refer to fellows who happen to have the same name as I. Would I recognize them if I passed them on the street? Like the bird contemplating the shell it has just broken out of, and saying, “Me? In there? Never!”
Status-sets “identities” Father Husband Age: 54 Race: “White” Professor Executive Director Friend Status-Activation & “Salient Statuses” Since individuals occupy multiple statuses, which specific status becomes activated at any given time? How is this “socially negotiated” by partners in interactions? How are discrepant activations resolved?
Status-sets “identities” Father Husband Age: 54 Race: “White” Professor Executive Director Friend Since individuals occupy multiple statuses they are subject to cross-pressures: expectations to comply with contending expectations of different statuses. Status-consistency to what extent are the beliefs, values attitudes, interests and social standing attached to different statuses in an individual’s status-set consistent? …and then how are the inevitable inconsistencies that arise managed?
Example: JANE DOE’S STATUS SET
Status-conflict; Status-strain Father Husband Age: 54 Race: “White” Professor Executive Director Friend Conflict: living up to the demands and obligations of one status precludes fulfilling the demands and obligations of another status. Strain: fulfilling all of the various status demands and obligations, but at less than peak effectiveness – having to prioritize, make trade offs, cut corners.
Status-conflict or Status-strain Role-conflict or Role-strain
Role-set of the status of “Professor” Professor Students Colleagues Deans Support Staff Community (each with a variable “person-set)
MULTIPLE STATUSES IF YOU CAN IDENTIFY YOUR COUNTER ROLE OCCUPANTS THEY WILL LEAD YOU TO YOUR ROLE-SET.