American Communication Research: The Remembered History

By Everette E. Dennis; Ellen Wartella | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Stanton, Lazarsfeld, and Merton--
Pioneers in Communication
Research

David L. Sills

Social Science Research Council, New York

In writing about Frank Stanton, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, and Robert K. Merton, I have the advantage of having known all three. Many of the events I relate, however, took place before I came to Columbia in January 1951.

Because all three of these pioneers were immigrants to New York City1 and were closely associated with each other for many years--largely on various projects in communication research--there is a great deal of logic in discussing them together in one chapter. Although I focus on them, it should not be forgotten that they often worked closely with many colleagues. They were true pioneers, but there were others as well who are celebrated in other chapters in this volume.

The circumstances surrounding their first encounter and their collaboration in communication research constitute an important part of the history of their relationship. Planned and unplanned research efforts often take unanticipated directions, and the importance of personality and intellectual entrepreneurship can best be seen in relation to events and their social context.

____________________
1
Frank Stanton was born in Muskegon, Michigan, in 1908. Paul Lazarsfeld was born in Vienna in 1901 and died in New York City in 1976; Robert Merton was born in Philadelphia in 1910. This presentation was made at the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center in 1995.

-105-

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