The generation of Italian sociologists who started their sociological studies between the late 1950s and the early 1960s has been marked by a singular experience: among the first books that we read and studied was without fail Social Theory and Social Structure by Robert K. Merton. Since I believe in the decisive influence of early experi­ ences, that is, in the possibility of generalizing on the ethological theory of imprinting, I think one can say that ours is a generation of sociologists which grew up under the influence of Merton, even if we are no longer always aware that we have received this inheritance and that we carry it with us. Thus, every now and then, I realize almost with astonishment that much of what I have cultivated in my socio­ logical garden in all these years turns on Mertonian themes: social time and ambivalence.