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Manifest and Latent Functions


1. What is the importance, according to Merton, of using the conceptual scheme of latent functions (unforeseen or unintended consequences) and manifest functions (purposed consequences)? Why does Merton think making a distinction between manifest and latent functions matters?

2. According to Merton, what is the heuristic purpose of the concept of manifest and latent functions? How does it help us understand why actions can lead to unforeseen or intended consequences?

3. According to Merton, what is the connection between latent functions and theoretical work/research and social knowledge? In what ways is the concept of latent functions a central theme underlying sociological theory?

4. When looking at patterns of conspicuous consumption, what role do latent functions play in status-enhancement?

5. According to Merton, what is the difference between illegitimate and legitimate businesses and their relationship to the political machine?

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