The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton

The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton

The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton

The Idea of Social Structure: Papers in Honor of Robert K. Merton

Excerpt

Editors are often tempted to write a wordy prologue in order to explain and justify their efforts. I shall resist that temptation and let the readers of this book make their own judgments. All that seems necessary are a few words to explain the way The Idea of Social Structure came into existence.

When a few of Robert K. Merton's friends and former students realized, hard as it was to believe, that he would reach the age of sixty-five in a few years, they thought about how to celebrate the event and honor the man. To publish a Festschrift seemed an appropriate way to express our gratitude and to register our indebtedness. I was pleased to be asked to become the editor. Our sampling of some earlier Festschriften indicated that those that had best withstood the test of time consisted of work written specifically for the occasion rather than of miscellaneous contributions. I resolved to ask all but a few of those whom I approached to relate their contributions, in any way they judged appropriate, to the work of the man we wished to honor. Most of the contributors agreed to take up a topic that I had suggested to them, and most of them, I am happy to report, stayed with that topic. If the contributions offered here range over a very large sociological territory, this is but a tribute to Robert K. Merton's own breadth of vision and thought.

I am most grateful to all those who have joined me in this venture. I speak for all of them when I say that whatever effort went into writing this volume discharges only a small fraction of the debt we owe, individually and as part of the sociological collectivity, to the work of Robert K. Merton. We hope that it will give pleasure to the man to be honored, but not to him alone.

LEWIS A. COSER

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