Robert Merton’s “middle-range” theory of structural functionalism



Robert Merton’s “middle-range” theory of structural functionalism involved revisiting Durkheim’s earlier theories and revising them. Why is a “middle-range” theory? What critique did Merton have of earlier functional theory and why did he feel the need to revise it? Explain Merton’s theory, including concepts of unanticipated consequences, manifest functions, latent functions, non-functions, and dysfunctions. Give an example of each of these concepts (come up with your own, do not use one from the book). Examine the theories of Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Thorstein Veblen, and Herbert Marcuse. Do you see any similar themes in these theories? Do you see these theories as expansions along similar theoretical strings or are they entirely different branches of thought? Compare and contrast each to each other and to any common themes that you see in all of them. There are similar themes among Jurgen Habermas’s concept of the lifeworld and Norbert Elias’s civilizing process. First, explain each of their theories/concepts. Explain how these theories connect to each other at a higher level and compare and contrast them to each other (ignoring the obvious differences such as “Elias looked at civilizing and Habermas looked at the lifeworld”). Give at least two examples of a behavior/action/event/etc. that can be examined and explained by both theorists.

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