Robert Merton ’28*

Robert Merton ’28*

Sociologist Robert K. Merton, SPHS
Class of 1928, is considered a founding

father of modern sociology and is rec-
ognized for the work he contributed to

criminology. He started his sociological
career at Temple and Harvard, taught at
Colombia, Harvard, and Tulane, and was

one of the seminal authors in the sociol-
ogy of science. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was

the first sociologist to be named a MacArthur Fellow. He was
awarded the US National Medal of Science, the first sociologist
to receive the prize. Some of Merton’s works deal with theories
of the middle range, clarifying functional analysis, dysfunctions,

and manifest and latent functions. His publications include “Sci-
ence, Technology and Society in Seventeenth Century England,”

“Social Theory and Social Structure,” “The Sociology of Science

Sociological Ambivalence,” “On the Shoulders of Giants: A Shan-
dean Postscript,” and “The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity:

A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science.”
Some phrases that are attributed to him include the self-fulfilling
prophecy, role model, dysfunctional, and conceptional analysis. His
son, Robert C. Merton, is the winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in
economics and his daughter, Vanessa Merton, is a Professor of Law
at Pace University School of Law.