SOCI 325 Lecture 4: Functionalism and Science

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Structural functionalism is a theoretical approach in sociology that views society as a system of interconnected and interdependent institutions. Often described with a biological metaphor: different organs and systems in a body all function to keep the whole organism working. "the institutional goal of science is the extension of certified knowledge. " (merton 1978, p. 270) Science adds to society"s ever-growing body of knowledge. Continued production of certified knowledge is enforced through an ethos of science. Normative structure is what makes science work, not scientists or methods. Merton describes four social norms that permeate and animate the institution of science, and he argues that deviation from these norms is uncommon. Merton wrote this piece early in his career in 1942 (during world. War ii) and included it in a collection of his work on the sociology of science in 1973 (during the cold war).

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