Merton's flawed and incomplete methodological program: Response to Stephen Turner

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (2):272-283 (2009)
Abstract
Particularly during the 1940s, Robert Merton developed a loosely knit methodological program including such key concepts as "structure and functional analysis" and "middle range theories" which provided guidance for sociological work over several decades and which retains some considerable relevance today. However, there are inconsistencies and incompletions in this program which have become more problematic over time. The paper questions the depth of these difficulties and also points out that in the historical circumstances of a limited stimulus provided by the paucity of critique written at the time and Robert Merton's operational style, it is not surprising that difficulties were not attended to. Key Words: Merton • methodological program • classics in sociology • functional analysis • middle-range theory.
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