Merton's Normative Structure of Science

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Contributed date

February 26, 2019 - 4:30am

Critical Commentary

For me, an outsider trying to wrap my head around STS, it seemed imperative to browse through the article 'Normative Structure of Science' (1942) because it seemed to be the starting point or the first reference in many articles that attempted to give an overview of STS. Initially, I was slightly confused about this article being cited with different years in different places and then realized that it was actually revised and edited about 5 times and the final version was published in 1973 and thus the discrepancies in references. Merton describes in a sociological context the norms/ ideals --- Universalism, Communal ownership of knowledge/ideas, Disinterestedness and Organized Skepticism. He suggests that these norms institutionally governs the practice of science, if one may say so.  Although these 'Mertonian norms' as they are referred to have been criticized in many ways, they continue to act as the reference points when one attempts a historical overview of STS.





Cite as

Robert Merton, "Merton's Normative Structure of Science", contributed by Aarti Latkar, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 3 March 2019, accessed 2 December 2021.