Robert K. Merton was one of the most influential sociologists of the 20th Century. His writing on the principles and importance of middle-range theory as well as his own theories of self-fulfilling prophecies and Matthew effects have been important sources of inspiration for the emergence of analytical sociology. Merton attended the first analytical-sociology/social mechanism conference held at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm in 1996, and he remained a strong supporter of analytical sociology throughout the rest of his career.

The Robert K. Merton Award for the best paper in analytical sociology is an annual award announced at the annual INAS conference. The award is based on a thorough selection process. Nominations are sought from the international scholarly community and the decision is made by a committee of leading scholars appointed at the INAS meeting.

Hanno Krusa and Clemens Kroneberg receive the 2021 Robert K. Merton Award. We congratulate them for their excellent paper on the structural conditions that shape ethnic boundary making in the school setting. Here is what the Award Committee (Klarita Gërxhani, Arnout van de Rijt, Filiz Garip, Javier Polavieja) said:

"The article examines the structural conditions that shape ethnic boundary making in the school setting. More specifically, it investigates the contextual dependence of peer relations and identities by connecting school networks to local ethnic stratification.

Its empirical findings show that the relationship between educational attainment and identification with mainstream society is not context-invariant; it depends on the place particular students occupy relative to their co-ethnic peers in the wider system of stratification. The findings also show that Muslim minority students do not increase their identification as Germans even in local contexts that are particularly conducive to boundary crossing. Such a crucial finding suggests that macro-level barriers and processes can trump the effect of local-context dynamics.

The article provides an excellent balance between theoretical ambition, sophisticated empirical analysis, and substantive disciplinary relevance. It is not only a very good example of analytical sociology, but also one that can speak to a broader audience."

The 2021 Award Committee

Previous winners of the Robert K. Merton Award