Peter Berger

Invitation to Sociology

The most popularly read, adapted, anthologized, and incorporated primer on sociology ever written for modern readers Acclaimed scholar and sociologist Peter L. Berger lays the groundwork for a clear understanding of sociology in his straightforward introduction to the field, much loved by students, professors, and general readers. Berger aligns sociology in the humanist tradition—revealing its relationship to the humanities and philosophy—and establishes its importance in thinking critically about the modern world. Throughout, Berger presents the contributions of some of the most important sociologists of the time, including Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, and Thorstein Veblen.
270 printed pages
Original publication



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    George Kopilashvilihas quoted3 years ago
    Let us return once more to the image of the puppet theater that our argument conjured up before. We see the puppets dancing on their miniature stage, moving up and down as the strings pull them around, following the prescribed course of their various little parts. We learn to understand the logic of this theater and we find ourselves in its motions. We locate ourselves in society and thus recognize our own position as we hang from its subtle strings. For a moment we see ourselves as puppets indeed. But then we grasp a decisive difference between the puppet theater and our own drama. Unlike the puppets, we have the possibility of stopping in our movements, looking up and perceiving the machinery by which we have been moved. In this act lies the first step towards freedom.
    George Kopilashvilihas quoted3 years ago
    Another such peculiar value is inherent in the sociologist’s necessity to listen to others without volunteering his own views. The art of listening, quietly and with full attention, is something that any sociologist must acquire if he is to engage in empirical studies. While one should not exaggerate the importance of what is often nothing more than a research technique, there is a human significance at least potentially present in such conduct, especially in our nervous and garrulous age in which almost nobody finds the time to listen with concentration.
    George Kopilashvilihas quoted3 years ago
    Take a settlement house in a lower-class slum district trying to wean away teen-agers from the publicly disapproved activities of a juvenile gang. The frame of reference within which social workers and police officers define the “problems” of this situation is constituted by the world of middle-class, respectable, publicly approved values. It is a “problem” if teen-agers drive around in stolen automobiles, and it is a “solution” if instead they will play group games in the settlement house. But if one changes the frame of reference and looks at the situation from the viewpoint of the leaders of the juvenile gang, the “problems” are defined in reverse order. It is a “problem” for the solidarity of the gang if its members are seduced away from those activities that lend prestige to the gang within its own social world, and it would be a “solution” if the social workers went way the hell back uptown where they came from. What is a “problem” to one social system is the normal routine of things to the other system, and vice versa. Loyalty and disloyalty, solidarity and deviance, are defined in contradictory terms by the representatives of the two systems.

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