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Middle range theory sociology Merton's work is often compared to that of Talcott Parsons. Merton enrolled in Parsons' theory course while at Harvard, and he admired Parsons' work because it introduced him to European methods of theory, while also broadening his own idea and conclusions about sociology.
However, unlike Parsons, who emphasized the necessity for social science to establish a general foundation, Merton preferred more limited, middle-range theories. Merton later explained in his writings, "although much impressed by Parsons as a master-builder of sociological theory, I found myself departing from his mode of theorizing as well as his mode of exposition.
Merton believed that middle range theories bypassed the failures of larger theories because they are too distant from observing social behavior in a particular social setting.
Theories of the middle range should be firmly supported by empirical data. These theories must be constructed with observed data in order to create theoretical problems and to be incorporated in proposals that allow empirical testing.
Strain Theory[ edit ] Merton argued that general strain theory is developed by this blockage in an individual's life which doesn't allow them to achieve their goal, essentially leading to deviant behaviour.
Merton uses the progress of achieving the ' American Dream ' as an example. If an individual can't achieve this, it can prove frustrating for the individual and may lead to breaking free into illegal escape routes or anger-based delinquency.
This theory has many criticisms as it doesn't factor in an individual's social class as someone as a lower socio-economic level might not be striving to achieving the 'American Dream' meaning they don't need to carry out illegal acts.
This also creates the idea that only people that fall under the bracket of the lower socio-economic are the only ones that will become a criminal and people that have achieved the 'American Dream' won't which is simply incorrect. Like Durkheim and Parsons he analyzes society with reference to whether cultural and social structures are well or badly integrated.
Merton is also interested in the persistence of societies and defines functions that make for the adaptation of a given social system. He believed that the way these early functionalists put emphasis [vice "emphasize"] on functions of one social structure or institution for another, created bias when focusing only on adaptation or adjustment because they would always have a positive consequence.
According to Merton's perception of "functionalism", all standardized social and cultural beliefs and practices are functional for both society as a whole as well as individuals in society. This outlook maintains that various parts of social systems must show a high level of integration, but Merton argues that a generalization like this cannot be extended to larger, more complex societies.
The second claim has to do with universal functionalism. This claim argues that all standardized social and cultural structures and forms have a positive function. Merton argues that this is a contradiction to what is seen in the real world; not every structure, idea, belief, etc.
The third claim of functional analysis that Merton argues with is that of indispensability. This claim states that the standardized parts of society have positive functions, and also represent indispensable parts of the working whole, which implies that structures and functions are functionally necessary for society.
Here, Merton argues, people must be willing to admit that there exist various structural and functional alternatives within society.The Political Science Department's Robert Holtz Memorial Prize, awarded to the best overall Political Science major graduating each May, is being awarded to Jordan Dannenberg!
Jordan is a participated in the Semester in Washington program in . Theoretical biologist Josh Mitteldorf has a PhD from UPenn. He runs the website ashio-midori.com, and writes a weekly column for ashio-midori.com Mitteldorf has had visiting research and teaching positions at various universities including MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.
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