May 1, 2010

Peter Berger and the Comedic Drama of Political, Economic and Social Life

  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Peter L. Berger is one of the most influential social scientists of the 20th century. A citation study of his work published in 1986 that studied the decade between the early 1970s to early 1980s demonstrated that his citation count during this time (1052) put him in the company of other thinkers such as Dewey, Whitehead and Marcuse. His contributions to the sociology of knowledge, sociology of religion, and the sociological/cultural analysis of capitalism are well-known and widely discussed. They are not without controversy however. In fact, it might be safe to say that Peter Berger marched to a beat of a different drum within his chosen field of sociology.

Peter Berger not only demonstrated throughout his work the seductive intellectual project of spontaneous order studies—the critical frame of mind that can result from examining sociability as the product of human action, but not of human design—but also made the indispensable linkage between the humanistic project in sociology and the understanding of the freedom of the individual in society.