Robert Merton was born Meyer Schkolnick on July 5, 1910 in Philadelphia, Pa. He changed his name when he won a scholarship to the local Temple University, honoring, in the process, both an Oxford and a Cambridge college. He was the son of immigrant parents from Eastern Europe who had settled in a rundown district of Philadelphia. He lived in an apartment above his father's milk, butter and egg store until the building burned down. In a lecture in 1994, he recalled how "that seemingly deprived south Philadelphia slum" provided him with a good start in life. He had friendships in a youth gang, and access to culture in the local libraries, schools and orchestras, "every sort of capital" except money. This problem he met by performing conjuring tricks at parties, calling himself Robert Merlin after King Arthur's magician. .
Mr. Merton was a tall man, 6ft 1in, but not a giant, except in the minds of his awed students. He certainly disciplined himself, usually starting work shortly after four in the morning, surrounded by those of his numerous cats that had woken up. Although it helped a teacher to have an easy command over his pupils, he was suspicious of authority; and indeed of the nature of fame. He wrote that many scientists, such as Newton and Galileo, were famous partly because they had been portrayed as rebels, but in fact, their genius had been adapted to the needs of their time. He approved of the aphorism that standing "on the shoulders of giants" makes progress. His coinage of terms like ''self-fulfilling prophecy'' and ''role models'' filtered from his academic pursuits into everyday language. During the last years of his life, he fought and overcame six different cancers. He died on February 23, 2003 at the age of 92.
- bureaucracies .
- mass communications.
- social influence .
- the professions .
- human behavior without prejudice.
- new thinking.
o mass media.