Merton and Lazarsfeld: Collaboration on theory and empirical research
This article represents an excursion into the history of sociology and into the history of empirical sociological research. It looks at four outcomes of collaboration between Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton. All of them draw on a combination of empirical research and sociological theory, and all of them were of significance for the cooperation between Merton and Lazarsfeld. First, they developed a pair of methodological tools: the programme analyser and the focused interview, and they created a functional model for the combined use of these two devices in research. Next, they co-edited a monograph titled Continuities in Social Research, in which they presented the results of the ‘American Soldier’ study and explained its contribution to the development of sociological theory and research methodology. Merton was a theorist and Lazarsfeld an empirically oriented scientist and the fruits of this kind of collaboration are apparent in their joint article ‘Friendship as a Social Process’. The fourth example of their cooperation occurred with their efforts to assert Lazarsfeld’s idea for a centre for advanced training in social research that would focus on research training. The complementary roles that Lazarsfeld and Merton played are illuminated further by the memoirs of these two scholars, which reflect on their collaborative research work.
Karlova univerzita v Praze, Fakulta spoločenských věd, Ústav sociálních studií, U Kríže 8, 158 00 Praha 5 – Jinonice, Czech Republic
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