Peter Berger Sociology

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In this encyclopedic entry, I intend to highlight and critically discuss the key sociological concepts presented by Peter L Berger. Berger provides an interesting case in which his work develops empirical arguments both for and against the theory of secularization. By looking at his two major books, The Sacred Canopy and The Desecularization of the World, this account will be looking at his theory of religious world-construction, his key arguments of secularization and later his arguments of religious revival. I will also be acknowledging the large influence he has had on other studies and the field of sociology as a whole. Firstly, a brief biographical account will be given of Berger’s life to deepen our understanding of the context behind …show more content…
However, in his later life, he retracts his former statements supporting secularization, and instead professed his renewed beliefs in ‘desecularization’, observing the process of religious revival in modern societies (Berger, 1999). His work covers further topics such as sociological theory and third world development (Peter Berger, Boston University Website). Originally born into a Lutheran family in Vienna, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire lead Berger to his residence and studies in New York by 1946 (Woodhead, 2001). His major sociological work began with his collaboration with Luckmann on ‘The Social Construction of Reality’, which concerns the theory behind the sociology of knowledge (Berger, …show more content…
Berger now argues that a main religious response to modernisation and pluralism is rejection; for example creating religious subcultures to ignore outside influences (Berger, 1999). Bruce believes that Berger’s change of mind on secularisation is due to the changing balance within himself, as he struggles to be both a social scientist and an Orthodox Lutheran (Bruce, 2001). However, it is most likely his rebuttal was sparked by the abundance of empirical evidence opposing secularisation in the 1980’s and 1990’s (Hinnells, 2005). Scholars such as Woodhead (2001) commend his ‘openness to empirical evidence’ and admittance of his wrongs. Berger is further praised for his ‘methodological self-consciousness’ throughout his work, and he claims to stick to a strict use of empirical evidence to support his arguments (Harvey, 1973). However, an example is found in The Sacred Canopy in which Berger claims that men are more affected by secularisation than women are; giving no empirical data to support this (Berger, 1967 p108). This suggests that Berger’s work is not as strictly empirical as he deems it to

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