The Mertonian argument is so well-known that, in a study of his body of work, as Sztompka’s book is, this aspect ends up being almost marginal. Moreover, the very familiarity of the thesis weakens the author’s ties of paternity, and inevitably precludes its evaluation within the context of a particular intellectual position and of a specific gnoseological perspective. Indeed, Merton’s ideas are by now such a part of current textbooks that they appear to be common methodologi­ cal notions. To a considerable extent, Merton’s contribution in this area has, in fact, been subjected to that form of scientific reproduction

which consists, as Merton himself has pointed out in other connec­ tions, in “banalizing” and “obliteration by incorporation.” Therefore, if we wish to understand the current relevance of Merton’s two essays on the relation between theory and research in its full actuality, we must reread them as part of the cognitivist theme and place them within Merton’s more general conception of sociology and of science, that is to say, place them with reference to the epistemological as­ sumptions implicit in this conception.