By Yehuda Elkana, Andras Szigeti, Gyorgy Lissauer
Ideas and the Social Order bargains a complete viewpoint on wisdom creation within the box of sociology.
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Additional info for Concepts and the Social Order: Robert K. Merton and the Future of Sociology
One of the main features of Bourdieu’s sociology, the sociological objectivation of the social sciences, was not far from Merton’s proposal about sociology of science, and we have a hunch, although there is no real evidence about it, that Bourdieu was aware of this link. However, it was easier for him, especially in the late 1960s and 70s, in order to create his own sociological niche, to appear as the fiercest opponent of American mainstream sociology, a real fiction on the banks of the Seine, since as Olivier Martin and Jean-Christophe Marcel have clearly established, Mertonian sociology was never really activated in France.
The French sociologists who had had the opportunity to meet him in the USA—particularly his translator Henri Mendras or even Raymond Boudon, close to Lazarsfeld and extremely knowledgeable about American sociology, made very scarce comments. Drawing on my own works on French intellectual history (Fabiani 1988, Fabiani 2010), but also on a study of critical literature about Merton I wrote for this workshop, and on the renewed interest of young French sociologists toward the historical development of their own discipline and the international circulation of ideas (Laurent Jeanpierre, Jean-Christophe Marcel, Olivier Martin, Romain Pudal, and Patricia Vannier among others), I shall try to understand Merton’s presence/absence in France.
Storer indicates that this essay in his collection reprints the contribution of Merton to the volume Twentieth-Century edited by Gurvitch and Moore in 1945. It is then somewhat puzzling to find that it also includes a reference to a book published in 1952. Sztompka also publishes an essay entitled „Paradigm for the Sociology of Knowledge” (1945) in his collection (Merton 1996) that differs from the version to be found in Storer’s collection (apart from the indicated omissions), noting that it was „revised from” the same 1945 contribution, but the date of the copyright is 1973.