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.

Martin Arvidsson, Francois Collet and Peter Hedström receive the 2022 Robert K. Merton Award. We congratulate them for their excellent paper on the "Trojan-horse mechanism". Here is what the Award Committee (Clemens Kroneberg, Hanno Kruse, Elizabeth Bruch, Miranda Lubbers, and Javier Polavieja) said:

The article advances our understanding of the role of networks in labor market segregation processes by identifying a new mechanism through which network-based recruitment reduces segregation between organizations. At the heart of the so-called Trojan-horse mechanism is the idea that individuals who leave an organization in which they are in a minority are more likely to be followed by majority-group individuals, so that initially segregating moves can unintendedly set in motion chains of desegregating moves. The article challenges the longstanding view of networks as amplifiers of segregation and adds an important mechanism to the toolbox of analytical sociology.
Following in the footsteps of scholars like Peter Blau, Thomas Schelling, and Harrison White, the authors demonstrate how foundational principles of analytical sociology can be put to practice in cutting edge social science. To connect micro and macro levels of analysis and to test the implications of the Trojan-horse mechanism, the study employs an innovative research design that combines causal inference, machine learning, and empirically calibrated simulations with large-scale register data on every individual and every organization residing in the greater Stockholm Metropolitan area during 2000–2017. In addition to serving as a guiding reference for analytical sociology, the article is likely to stimulate future work in various settings, as the Trojan-horse mechanism promises much wider applicability beyond the case of gender segregation across organizations.

The 2022 Award Committee

Previous winners of the Robert K. Merton Award