The unanticipated consequences of purposive social action

  title={The unanticipated consequences of purposive social action},
  author={R. Merton},
  journal={American Sociological Review},
  • R. Merton
  • Published 1 December 1936
  • Philosophy
  • American Sociological Review
I N SOME ONE of its numerous forms, the problem of the unanticipated consequences of purposive action has been treated by virtually every substantial contributor to the long history of social thought.' The diversity of context' and variety of terms3 by which this problem has been known, however, have tended to obscure the definite continuity in its consideration. In fact, this diversity of context-ranging from theology to technology-has been so pronounced that not only has the substantial… 
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