Robert Merton Revisited
Part I: Unintended Consequences– Refinements and Redefinitions
Part I: Unintended Consequences – Refinements and Redefinitions Introduction Adriana Mica The contribution of this section’s articles should be read as a continuation of the dis- cussion opened in the Introduction regarding the development and critical appraisal of Merton’s work, as well as the non-Mertonian input to “sociology and the unintended”. Raymond Boudon’s paper advances the consequential argument as framed within the theory of ordinary rationality – i.e. “puzzling social macrophenomena” are de- picted as the unintended outcomes of rational individual actions and/or beliefs. The paper builds on the research findings of the author’s work, and refines theoretical ar- guments advanced earlier regarding the relationship between the theory of ordinary rationality and unintended consequences. Interestingly, parts of the paper which aid in putting forward Boudon’s argument could also be read as pointing to theoretical short- comings, or even deconstructing, to a certain extent, the general ambitions of a would- be consequential sociology. Such a passage concerns the analysis of the explanatory potential (in terms of the general validity) of three models of individual social action which pertain to three types of psychology: consequential, causal and rational respec- tively. The former type is illustrated by rational choice theory, which “assumes that actors are motivated by the consequences they imagine their actions will likely pro- duce”. Although Boudon takes issue with this theory in the context of its rivalry with the perspective of ordinary rationality he supports, the arguments can also be followed up when discussing the potential as well as the limitations of...
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