• Once expanded to the study of latent functions: – the sociologist will examine familiar (or planned) social practices to determine the latent, unrecognized, functions and make distinctive intellectual contributions IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY
IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY • Findings concerning latent functions represent an increment in knowledge because they describe practices and beliefs in terms which are not common knowledge. • They preclude the substitution of naïve moral judgments for thoughtful sociological analysis. • Naïve moral judgments in society usually result from the manifest consequences of a social practice or code of behavior not critically examined.
• Analysis in terms of latent functions, then, often runs counter to the prevailing moral evaluations. • Considered from the functional viewpoint: – Persistent social patterns and social structures perform positive functions which, at the time, are not adequately fulfilled by other existing patterns and structures. – Publicly criticized behaviors and organizations – often defined as deviant – are, under present conditions, very likely satisfying basic and important latent functions. IMPACT OF MERTON’S THEORY
MULTIPLE VARIABLES TO CONSIDER SIMULTANEOUSLY
MERTON’S GENERAL PARADIGM OF SOCIOLOGICAL / STRUCTURAL AMBIVALENCE: STRUCTURALLY CREATED STRAIN “opposing normative tendencies in the social definition of a role or status”
Individuals as Status-Occupants status-sets role-sets norm-clusters
SOCIOLOGYSSS SOCIOLOGY: A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
THE PARADIGM IN GENERAL: In its most extended form: Incompatible normative expectations of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior are assigned to a status or to a set of statuses. In its most restricted form: Incompatible normative expectations are incorporated within a single role of a single status.
SPECIFIC CONFLICTS & CONTRADICTIONS • Conflict among statuses within a status-set: a pattern of conflict of interests or of values within the status-set. • Conflict between several roles associated with a particular status. • Contradictions among general cultural values held by all members of society, i.e., not specific to a particular status.
• Conflict or disjunction between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these aspirations (the opportunity structure). • Contradiction or conflict between cross-cultural statuses. • Contradiction or conflict between reference group anchors or identifications . SPECIFIC CONFLICTS & CONTRADICTIONS
ROLE-SET THEORY • Begins with the concept that each social status involves not a single associated role, but an array of roles (a role-set). • Example: A medical student plays not only the role of student vis-à-vis the correlative status of his teachers but also an array of other roles relating diversely to others in the system: other medical students, physicians, nurses, social workers, medical technicians, non- medical students, university administrative personnel, and the like.
• Role-Set theory raises the general problem of
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