Heuristic purposes of the distinction: Clarifies the analysis
of seemingly irrational social patterns. In the first place, the
distinction aids the sociological interpretation of many social practices
which persist even though their manifest purpose is clearly not achieved.
The time-worn procedure in such instances has been for diverse, particularly
lay, observers to refer to these practices as "superstitions," "irrationalities,"
"mere inertia of tradition," etc. In other words, when group behavior
does not--and, indeed, often cannot--attain its ostensible purpose there
is an inclination to attribute its occurrence to lack of intelligence,
sheer ignorance, survivals, or so-called inertia (1968, p. 116).