Literature/1973/Merton

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Merton, Robert K. (1973). The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. University of Chicago Press.

Excerpts[edit]

  • Since the emergence of the Mertonian paradigm in the early 1960s, most research in the field appears to fit Kuhn's definition of "normal science." Not only Merton's own work but that of many others in the field have focused primarily on problems which, once elucidated, turn out to be directly relevant to questions explicit or implicit in the paradigm. In short, the sociology of science has matured to the point where much research involves "puzzle-solving." As Kuhn emphasizes,[1] to describe research as "puzzle-solving" does not imply that it falls short of being imaginative, satisfying, or important. Filling out the areas which a paradigm can only identify -- what Merton has described as "specified ignorance" -- is as necessary to the development of scientific knowledge as is the scientific revolution; without the yin of normal science, there would be no basis for the yang of scientific revolution -- and the latter is comparatively rare. (p. xxx) -- From "Introduction" by Norman W. Storer

Reviews[edit]

  • The exploration of the social conditions that facilitate or retard the search for scientific knowledge has been the major theme of Robert K. Merton's work for forty years. This collection of papers [is] a fascinating overview of this sustained inquiry .... There are very few other books in sociology ... with such meticulous scholarship, or so elegant a style. This collection of papers is, and is likely to remain for a long time, one of the most important books in sociology.
    • Joseph Ben-David, New York Times Book Review.

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Notes[edit]

  1. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, chapter 4.