The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity
A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science
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Travels and Adventures of Serendipity by Robert K. Merton
Book DescriptionFrom the names of cruise lines and bookstores to an Australian ranch and a nudist camp outside of Atlanta, the word serendipity--that happy blend of wisdom and luck by which something is discovered not quite by accident--is today ubiquitous. This book traces the word's eventful history from its 1754 coinage into the twentieth century--chronicling along the way much of what we now call the natural and social sciences. The book charts where the term went, with whom it resided, and how it fared. We cross oceans and academic specialties and meet those people, both famous and now obscure, who have used and abused serendipity. We encounter a linguistic sage, walk down the illustrious halls of the Harvard Medical School, attend the (serendipitous) birth of penicillin, and meet someone who "manages serendipity" for the U.S. Navy. The story of serendipity is fascinating; that of The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity, equally so. Written in the 1950s by already-eminent sociologist Robert Merton and Elinor Barber, the book--though occasionally and most tantalizingly cited--was intentionally never published. This is all the more curious because it so remarkably anticipated subsequent battles over research and funding--many of which centered on the role of serendipity in science. Finally, shortly after his ninety-first birthday, following Barber's death and preceding his own by but a little, Merton agreed to expand and publish this major work. Beautifully written, the book is permeated by the prodigious intellectual curiosity and generosity that characterized Merton's influential On the Shoulders of Giants. Absolutely entertaining as the history of a word, the book is also tremendously important to all who value the miracle of intellectual discovery. It represents Merton's lifelong protest against that rhetoric of science that defines discovery as anything other than a messy blend of inspiration, perspiration, error, and happy chance--anything other than serendipity.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780691126302
(229mm x 152mm x 22mm)
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 2-Jan-2006
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Robert K. Merton
On Social Structure and Science, Paperback (September 1996)
This definitive compilation encompasses the breadth of Robert Merton's works, from the earliest to the most recent, including his foundational writings on social structure and process, on the sociology of science and knowledge, and on the discipline and trajectory of sociology itself.
Focused Interview, Paperback (May 1990)
Reissue of a seminal 1956 work which outlined techniques aimed at eliciting the specific responses of individuals and groups to particular events and situations. A new introduction traces the diffusion of Merton's technique from sociology to other fields, including psychology, and market research.
Becoming an Ex, Paperback (June 1988)» View all books by Robert K. Merton
Exploring a wide range of role changes, Ebaugh focuses on voluntary exits from significant roles and the common stages--from disillusionment with a particular identity to search for alternative roles to turning points and finally to the creation of an identity as an ex.
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Author Biography - Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton, who died in 2003, was one of the leading sociologists of the twentieth century. His many books include "Social Theory and Social Structure" and "On the Shoulders of Giants". Elinor Barber was, at the time of her death, Research Associate at Columbia University. She is a coauthor of "Bridges to Knowledge" and "Increasing Faculty Diversity". James L. Shulman is Executive Director of ARTstor and a coauthor of "The Game of Life" (Princeton).
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