Title

Shrinking Merton

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2009

Keywords

Robert K. Merton, middle-range theory, theory construction, spurious correlation, Paul Lazarsfeld

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393109342715

Abstract

Agassi, Sztompka, Kincaid, and Crothers argue, in various ways, that Merton should not be held responsible for his published views on theory construction, and they provide psychological or strategic explanations for his failure to resolve issues with these views. I argue that this line of defense is unnecessary. A better case for Merton would be that theories in his middle-range sense were a nontechnical alternative solution to the problem of spurious correlation. Middle-range theory was not, however, a solution to the problem of diverse approaches. Merton also did not resolve the problems with his account of functionalism, and the problems undermine the claim that he had a distinctive “structural” approach all along.

Was this content written or created while at USF?

Yes

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, v. 39, issue 3, p. 481-489

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