“My life of learning has been largely shaped by a long series of chance encounters and consequential choices."
Robert King Merton (1910–2003)
LittD 1985 (hon.)
One of the most influential social scientists in the world by the time he was 40, Merton is known for his contributions to the study of social structure, sociology of science, bureaucracy, and mass communications. Called the "father of the focus group," he developed other concepts, such as "self-fulfilling prophecy," "deviant behavior," and "role model," which have since entered the general vocabulary. Merton was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1983. In 1994, he became the first sociologist to receive the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor.