Robert King Merton: (1910-2003) born in Philadelphia on the fourth of July as Meyer Robert Schkolnick to newly immigrated Russian-Jewish parents. Merton changed his name as an amateur magician to this stage name by which he came to be known during his scholarly career. One of the most celebrated sociologists in the mid to late 20th century – he amassed awards and honorary degrees from around the world – but it was his son, Robert C. Merton, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1997.
Merton eschewed the grand theory approach of one of his mentors and advisors, Talcott Parsons, in favour of a theory of the middle range, under the influence of his colleague, Paul Lazarsfeld, at the Bureau of Applied Research at Columbia University of which Merton was associate director. In addition to middle range sociological theory, Merton was known as an (more…)