Religious American and Secular European Courts, or vice versa? There's no question that The Sacred Canopy is a classic that is still influential and deserves this kind of critical appraisal. In the sense of constructive criticism, this volume is the best thing that can happen to a life's work.
Each of the contributors brings a lifetime of reflection on the sociological study of religion. Together, they show the complexity of Berger's thought and its continued relevance to sociology today. This is not mere hagiography. The chapters reveal aspects of Berger's thought that other writers have missed. It still is. The essays brought together in this volume speak to the continuing significance of The Sacred Canopy for an interesting mix of scholars: some senior and some less so; some fascinated by theory and some by its applications in the field.
I recommend it warmly. Secondly, we internalize institutional "sub worlds" during one's adulthood, put in various positions in the economy. Our identity and the society are seen as dialectically related: our identity is formed by social processes, which are in turn ordered by our society. People have the ability to do whatever they want in these spheres, but socialization causes people to only choose certain sexual partners or certain foods to eat to satisfy biological needs.
The humanistic perspective is generally outside of mainstream, contemporary sociology. It is considered as a view that relates more to the humanities — literature, philosophy — than to social science. Its ultimate purpose lies in freeing society of illusions to help make it more humane. In this sense, we are the "puppets of society," but sociology allows us to see the strings that we are attached to, which helps to free ourselves. Berger's "Invitation to Sociology" outlines his approach to the field of sociology in these humanistic terms.
Methodologically, sociologists should attempt to understand and observe human behaviour outside the context of its social setting and free from whatever influence a sociologist's personal biases or feelings might be. The study of sociology, Berger posits, should be value-free. Research should be accrued in the same manner as the scientific method, using observation, hypothesis, testing, data, analysis and generalization. The meaning derived from the results of research should be contextualized with historical, cultural, environmental, or other important data.
Berger saw the field of sociology as not only just a way to help people and the community, but sociological insights are also important to all people interested in instilling action in society. Sociologists are a part of a multitude of fields, not just social work. Berger stated that sociology is not a practice, but an attempt to understand the social world. These understandings could be used by people in any field for whatever purpose and with whatever moral implications. He believed that sociologists, even if their values varied greatly, should at the very least have scientific integrity.
Sociologists are only humans and will still have to deal with things such as convictions, emotions, and prejudices, but being trained in sociology should learn to understand and control these things and try to eliminate them from their work. A sociologist's job is to accurately report on a certain social terrain. Sociology is a science, and its findings are found through observation of certain rules of evidence that allow people to repeat and continue to develop the findings.
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Berger believed that society is made aware of what he referred to as the nomos, or the patterns a particular society wants its members to see as objectively right and to internalize. The nomos is all the society's knowledge about how things are, and all of its values and ways of living. This is upheld through legitimacy, either giving special meaning to these behaviors or by creating a structure of knowledge that enhances the plausibility of the nomos.
The existence of an eternal cosmic entity that legitimizes a nomos makes the nomos itself eternal; an individual's actions within its set society are all based on a universal and orderly pattern based on their beliefs. Modern pluralization, which has stemmed from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, set forth a new set of values, including: separation of the religious and secular spheres of life, a person's wealth as a determinant of value, maximizing freedom to enhance wealth, increasing prediction and control to increase wealth, and identifying oneself as a member of a nation-state.
This, in turn, spread capitalism and its ideals and beliefs of individualism and rationalization and separated Christians from their Gods. With globalization, even more beliefs and cultures were confronted with this. Berger believed that modernity — technological production paradigms of thinking and bureaucracy, namely — alienated the individual from primary institutions and forced individuals to create separate spheres of public and private life.
There is no plausibility structure for any system of beliefs in the modern world; people are made to choose their own with no anchors to our own perceptions of reality. This lowers feelings of belonging and forces our own subjectivities onto themselves.
Berger called this a "homelessness of the mind. The socialist myth, a non-pejorative term of Berger's, actually arises from intellectual leftism masking a need to resolve the lacking sense of community in the modern world through the promise to destroy the oppression of capitalism. Berger believed resolving community in modern society needs to emphasize the role of "mediating structures" in their lives to counter the alienation of modernity.
Human existence in the age of modernity requires there to be structures like church, neighbourhood, and family to help establish a sense of belonging rooted in a commitment to values or beliefs. This builds a sense of community and belonging in an individual. In addition, these structures can serve a role in addressing larger social problems without the alienation that larger society creates. The role of mediating structures in civil society is both private and public, in this sense. The general meaning of pluralism is the coexistence, generally peaceful, of different religions, worldviews, and value systems within the same society.
Berger believes pluralism exists in two ways. The first being that many religions and worldviews coexist in the same society. The second is the coexistence of the secular discourse with all these religious discourses. Some people avoid pluralism by only operating within their own secular or religious discourse, meaning they do not interact with others outside of their beliefs.
Pluralism generally today is that it is globalized. Berger sees benefits in pluralism. One is that pluralism makes complete consensus in beliefs very rare, which allows people to form and hold their own beliefs without trying to conform to a society that holds all the same beliefs. This ties into the second benefit which is that pluralism gives freedom and allows people free decisions.
Another benefit is that if pluralism is connected to religious freedom, religious institutions now become voluntary associations. Lastly, pluralism influences individual believers and religious communities to define the core of their faith separately from less central elements, which allows people to pick and choose certain aspects of their chosen form of belief that they may or may not agree with, while still remaining true to the central parts of it.
In daily life, people experience symbols and glimpses of existence beyond empirical order and of transcendent existence. Berger calls these "rumours of angels". People feel in times of great joy, in never-ending pursuit of order against chaos, in the existence of objective evil, and in the sense of hope that there exists some supernatural reality beyond that of human existence.
People who choose to believe in the existence of a supernatural other require faith — a wager of belief against doubt — in the modern rationalised world. Knowledge can no longer sufficiently ground human belief in the pluralized world, forcing people to wager their own beliefs against the current of doubt in our society. Like most other sociologists of religion of his day, Berger once predicted the all-encompassing secularization of the world.
Berger finds that his and most sociologists' misconsensus about secularisation may have been the result of their own bias as members of academia, which is a largely atheist concentration of people. Ainlay build upon the social theories of Berger's. Hunter and Ainlay use Berger's ideologies as a foundation and framework for this particular book. Nicholas Abercrombie begins by examining his reformation of the sociology of knowledge.
Shifting his focus on the subjective reality of everyday life, Berger enters a dialogue with traditional sociologies of knowledge — more specific, those of Karl Marx and Karl Mannheim. Abercrombie digs deeper into this dialogue Berger brings up, and he considers ways in which Berger goes beyond these figures. Peter Berger and the Study of Religion Peter Berger is the most influential and the most cited contemporary sociologis Peter Berger and the Study of Religion Peter Berger is the most influential and the most cited contemporary sociologist of religion, who has been writing on this subject for over forty years.
A collection of essays by leading scholars in the study of religion and theology, Peter Berger and the Study of Religion is a comprehensive introduction to both the work of Peter Berger and to current thought on the central issues and ideas in the study of religion. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
He has written on irreligion, the cult and the cultic milieu, and superstition, while his books include The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism and The Myth of Social Action Gary Dorrien is Ann V. Parts of his essay in this volume are adapted from Dorrien , with permission. Richard K. La Religion en Mouvement David G. Recent publications include Does Christianity Cause War? Introduction Linda Woodhead Here I want to see those men of hard voice. Those that break horses and dominate rivers; those men of sonorous skeleton who sing with a mouth full of sun and flint Federico Garcia Lorca Used as the epigraph of The Homeless Mind Berger and Kellner, When Paul Heelas and I recently put together a reader on Religion in Modern Times there were a handful of authors whose work we found ourselves using again and again.
Try as we might to find alternatives, there was no getting away from the fact that these were the writers responsible for a disproportionate number of the key formulations in the study of religion. No big surprises there — our work merely confirmed an informal canon which is already widely accepted. But a canon in the postwar study of religion is not yet as clearly defined, and it was therefore with genuine interest that we discovered that the authors from whom we had extracted the most were David Martin, Robert Bellah, Robert Wuthnow — and Peter Berger.
In varying degrees and in different ways, all four of these authors combine high-level theorizing with close attention to empirical evidence. This foundational text in the sociology of knowledge explored and exposed the linkages between conviction, commitment, and social reality. Berger applied the arguments of this book to the religious realm in The Sacred Canopy His unique insight — 2 Linda Woodhead which he now modestly refers to as his one truly original idea — was that pluralism undermines stable belief.
A central conclusion was that pluralism leads inevitably to secularization. The power of this early theoretical framework is proven by the way in which it yielded rich insights in the many different spheres to which Peter Berger applied it in subsequent work. The history of its continuing application to religion is particularly interesting and revealing. His initial focus on the fate of religion particularly Christianity in America and Europe has continued, but quickly broadened to take account of global religious developments, not least the spread of Islam and Charismatic Christianity.
While he believes that his insights into the cognitively corrosive effects of pluralism still stand, he is prepared to admit that he may have misconceived the relation between pluralism and secularization. People continue to be religious in most modern societies with the possible exception of Europe , but are religious in new ways — even when the new ways present themselves as a return to the old ways. Both A Rumour of Angels a and The Heretical Imperative a have had a profound influence within the churches, and are still frequently Introduction 3 cited.
His recent Redeeming Laughter a stands in the same tradition. In his theology as in his politics, Berger jousts with both conservatives and liberals, often managing to discomfit both. This volume attempts to take stock of this enormous achievement, and in particular of his work in the study of religion. Contributors were deliberately chosen to reflect both different generations and different specialisms. The dominance of secularization theory in the sociology of religion has often inhibited study of the nature, survival, and transformations of religion in modern societies.
Despite his massive contribution to secularization theory, Peter Berger has never ceased paying attention to the fate of religion on the ground. What is more, his contributions to a sociology of modernity have significant implications for our understanding of religion in modern contexts — and vice versa. While Berger admits the reality of secularization in Europe, he argues that this should be treated as the exceptional rather than the typical case of religion in the modern world.
While endorsing this development, Horrell also makes some sharp comments about its tendency to underestimate the importance of power relations in the social construction of reality. Bernice Martin also suggests that gender emerges as an unexamined but nevertheless key structuring theme of the novel. In his postscript Peter Berger responds to each of these contributions in turn. He listens attentively to the interpretations and criticisms offered and — while defending his theories with vigour — indicates a number of issues on which he has modified his views or changed his mind.
The reader is left with a sense of the richness and vitality of the corpus of guiding theories, Introduction 5 formulations, metaphors, and perspectives which Berger has developed over the years; its continuing power to illuminate; and its continuing genesis in collaboration and dialogue with others. Clearly his influence has been profound within many of the most central areas of research and debate in the study of religion: the sociological nature of religious commitment; the transformations of religion in modern times; the relations between religion and the economic realm; secularization theory and its revision; Biblical Studies; the interface between theology and sociology.
A good example is de-secularization, on which Berger began to write as early as Similarly, he has long been interested in the topic of religion and globalization, which again has become widely fashionable only in the past decade or so. One of the most concrete ways in which Peter Berger has shaped the field has been in his role as Director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture in Boston, a position he has held since Beginning with Pyramids of Sacrifice a , this interest fanned out to take in developments in Latin America, the Pacific Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere , and led into a particular concern with development in South Africa.
The work of ISEC has reflected and furthered these interests, and even a very selective list of the scholars and projects it has supported gives some impression of how wide-ranging and influential its work has been. Opus Dei and its Paradoxes ; research by Hansfried Kellner and Frank Heuberger on recent developments in capitalism, published as Hidden Technocrats. It is from one of the above projects that my favourite recollection of Peter Berger comes.
To anyone who has met Peter Berger, the anecdote will have the ring of truth. What is more, these two words seem to offer an interpretative key to much that is distinctive about his remarkable contribution. What do they tell us? What is there of generalizable significance about the data? In this context, the question is a reminder of the importance of theory in the social sciences. Without downplaying the essential place of empirical research, Peter Berger continues to remind us of the importance of theory as the engine of responsible thought and agency.
Data must be theorized in order to have relevance to anything but themselves. The reminder is important at a time when certain tendencies in the social sciences generate anxiety and suspicion about the possibilities of generalizing beyond the particular case. What practical implications might they have? Again, Berger rides over many common hesitancies in his insistence that sociology can and should make a difference.
This seems to be grounded in his work on social construction, where he exposes the given as the created. It is because society is a human Introduction 7 construction that it is amenable to human reason and enquiry and capable of being shaped by human agency. Berger does not overlook the extent to which we humans are ourselves social constructions: rather, he tries to balance an awareness that society is a human product with an awareness that humans are social products.
Berger does not believe that the sociologist can be or should become a political or social visionary; rather, the duty of the sociologist is to be clear-sighted about the pretensions, ironies, contradictions, constraints, and opportunity costs involved in all social choices. While it would be easy, even natural, for a sociologist to evade this question, Berger does not.
These he finds in the fundamental experiences of love, play, laughter, outrage at evil, hope in adversity. The basic human responsibility is to strain to discern such order, to live in responsiveness to it, and to preserve the fragile but essential structures which are all that stands between us and ever-threatening collapse into meaninglessness and disorder. I think I was initially intrigued about a third of a century ago by his talent for the unexpected.
Flicking the pages of a new book The Precarious Vision a in the recent acquisitions section of the LSE library, I was brought up short by his imagining a possible future dominated by Islam. The idea was bizarre since everybody in those days assumed the only possible future was under the aegis of the secular politics of the left.
I did so and recognized a talent for turning the everyday into something rich and strange. I saw how we, out of our shared devices and desires, create common worlds. The weight of the given freshly emerged as a case of world-maintenance. It was precisely that talent for revising everyday perceptions which I encountered again in Invitation to Sociology d; orig. However, it was important they read something else more boring. Here in the Invitation were the structures of recognizably human experience presented by somebody who sounded as if he had tasted some of it himself.
The writing jettisoned all our evasive passives and dehydrated abstractions to grasp the objects of our study, or rather the subjects of our study, each after its kind. Though an intensely private individual, he wanted most of all 12 David Martin to communicate his fascination with the taken-for-granted recipes which shape our social activity rather than to deal in pregnant tautologies and tortuous renaming of the familiar. Yet if a fresh analytic move or coinage were really required he immediately invented it or else redeployed classical resources: nomoi, cosmoi, sacred canopies, plausibility structures.
Given that American sociological English has been infected by Germanic constructions — piled up agglomerations and multiple hyphenation — it was a singular grace that a migrant from Austria to the English-speaking world could write such lucid prose. Maybe he took his favourite P. Wodehouse as his model. I will mention just one other virtue, and one he shares with Thomas Luckmann: a readiness to change his mind.
Maybe as you constantly rotate all the facets of the diamond of the given a new light will strike you. Take, for example, his approach to secularization. Readers will recollect the role played in his theory of secularization by pluralism as it corrodes and relativizes our commitments. When Peter Berger became doubtful about that he said so.
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So far I have referred only tangentially to the sociology of religion, which is the strict focus of our concern. After all, the virtues just mentioned are present equally in his general sociology as in his sociology of religion. Yet even as we adhere to that focus we ought to remember that the sociology of religion is just one set of opus numbers in a very extensive opera. Here I interpose an anecdote. It has always seemed to me that with titles such as The Social Construction of Reality a and The Social Reality of Religion originally published as The Sacred Canopy , Berger gave the impression of being ready for some active deconstruction and subversion.
To the casual reader here was the theory of a practice of changing the world. With that object in mind, students one day entered his office asking for further enlightenment on direct action. It had not occurred to them that their hero entertained a mild nostalgia for the benefits of multi-ethnic empires. Their disappointment was great when he pointed to a picture of the Emperor Franz Joseph and invited them to depart. Something similar occurred when I chaired a lecture he gave at the LSE in the lateish s on the double nature of sociology, radical and conservative.
The Old Theatre buzzed with revolutionary and anarchic anticipations — though no one streaked for Berger as they did for Parsons, since no such adventitious aids to attention were needed. For the first halfhour fervour reigned.
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Then, as Berger proceeded in praise of apathy the audience became ever more hyperactive until at question time they were convulsed. Peter Berger then recommended European manners to them and publicly consoled himself with the thought that they all needed sleep some time or other and would one day be constrained by progeny. Maybe that is the point: would he ever want to speak according to script or be the leader of a crowd? His recent disagreement with some old colleagues in arms over their absolutist attitude to abortion is a case in point.
That does not make him an ordinary conservative for whom semblance is solidity, but aligns him with all those who are wary of our social precariousness, knowledgeable as Macchiavelli was about the universality of corruption in all its fascinating detail. He is not even a standard anti-intellectual intellectual but one who will use the hermeneutic of suspicion on its Western-educated practitioners. Berger does not expect to descry the deep currents in generalized notions such as postmodernism, but by patient observation of whatever is the case.
Some theologians — not all — have found Berger as discomfiting as the radicals. Not quite perhaps, because theologians recognize a friend to their enterprise as well as a critic of the way they go about it. That hunting for clues confirms that we are all sociologists now. For quite a number the natural attitude is conservatism in religion, liberalism in politics, and the reverse is unconscionable. For Berger, however, the principle of Etsi Deus non daretur in sociological enquiry was not negotiable. This mismatch of aims, expectations and understandings is quite frequent between Christians who are sociologists and clerical intellectuals, especially maybe those in the religious bureaucracies whom Berger suspects of peddling a contemporary credulity.
He also in some of his earlier work sought to undermine those who in Barthian manner sought to fence off the Word proclaimed in the church behind an unassailable palisade. One has to sympathize with learned theologians who did their reading and found that, whatever they wrote, some sociologist would declare them deluded adepts of a mistaken fashion. But others did not. Reactions have been varied. As his sociology is humanist so his theology begins with the human, above all the implications of our gestures.
Berger is a Christian humanist, understanding society without reduction as of human devising, and incarnational in finding the manifestation of God in the lineaments of the human face, in the gestures of the body, in the incongruity of our condition. This latter book is Echt Berger and too little known. At one level it offers a thematic index to his whole repertoire: relativity, pluralism, plausibility, meaningful cosmoi, the occlusion of our own projections, cognitive contamination and bargaining, as well as contemporary Berger: an appreciation 15 homelessness and uncertainty about who we are.
Not that Berger has any doubts about who he is: a Lutheran rabbi. However, A Far Glory combines sociology and theology in a way which would make some, such as Bryan Wilson, feel uneasy. For myself I believe it is possible to devise a mixed text, just as literary criticism may switch to philosophy or sociology. We all of us deploy rhetorical genres with their varied resonances, and in sociology we even have a weakness for the rhetorical stance of the legal brief. What we find in the mixed text of A Far Glory is direct commitment and a clear theological profile.
He asks how he, a German-speaking Lutheran, simul iustus et peccator, makes his obeisance to Apollo. The first stands Feuerbach on his head: the empirical world is itself a gigantic, though fragmented, symbol of the face of God. The second is a search under all forms for the analogues of the logos, the cosmic Christ. Read those passages and gauge what the pulpit lost when Peter Berger the ordinand felt scruples more exacting than those of his compeers concerning the Augsburg Confession.
Instead I borrow from Bernice Martin to suggest that what for some is the epiphany of music or poetry is found for Berger in the incongruities of the comic story. That is all explored in his Redeeming Laughter a. We only laugh because we are at once greatly rude and rudely great. Our genuine dignity uncovers our primal absurdity and we howl in derision and delight. It has always seemed to me that the conversion of the Jews is a risky business, and a far more frequent risk than 16 David Martin Andrew Marvell realized when apostrophizing his coy mistress for delay.
But it is not simply Jewish intelligence that suggests that within a generation or two they will come up with wry and creative observations about Christianity. We must be more sociological than that. It is their capacity to stand both within and without while migrating about our global society. It is that, together with passionate commitments, and a desire to communicate out of momentary silences and a loneliness, that has provided a context for Berger to refresh our vocabulary, renew our frameworks, and alter our perceptions.
In my experience that is self-evident from examining theses in the hundreds over thirty-five years. The trouble is that in characteristically Bergerian mode we may occlude how and when that happened, why that was so salutary, and by what human agency it was produced. This, then, is our anamnesis as a scholarly community, and if in what follows we have sundry reservations or criticisms they come in the context of our gratitude.
In spite of some clarifying words from the editors, I was uncertain precisely what was expected of me. What could I say about Peter Berger and his collaborators? What worried me was not the well-known fact of historical semantics that the term collaborateur had lost its innocence during the Second World War, together with the fact that I doubted that the passing years had succeeded in wiping out the obloquy which the quislings had conferred upon it at that time.
What did worry me were other matters, among them the plural form of the expectation. I shall come back to that. In any case, the difficulty was not only that at first I did not know what to write. I could see that even if I were to find something to add to the volume, not perhaps about a multitude of collaborators, but at least about a collaborator in the singular, I would have some difficulty in deciding how to write it.
Was there a literary form, a genre, that was clearly appropriate for the task? Evidently, the occasion did not demand a laudatio, nor, most happily, an epitaph. Another, weightier possibility presented itself. Should I try to produce a theoretical essay, extracting a social psychology of collaboration scholarly collaboration, to be sure from the narrowly circumscribed example of the books and articles — two and three, if I counted correctly — which we wrote together? But I did not feel that I had the necessary qualifications for the task, among which objectivity is not the least.
As one of the collaborators, and as one of the earliest ones at that, I was understandably tempted to indulge in reminiscences. Should posterity be interested to hear about the breathtaking speed with which my friend 18 Thomas Luckmann hammered away at the typewriter when, in the grip of inspiration, he put to paper a formulation to be used in one of our joint texts?
I was in doubt whether it would it be proper to add such anecdotal marginalia to a volume with scholarly intentions. Would anyone but co-reminiscers be interested in them? Having seen the list of the other contributors collaborators? I therefore no longer hesitated to accept the invitation and committed myself to contribute a rather different, minor introductory chapter to the volume: a few personal observations on our collaboration, adding a few scattered reflections on its outcome. To be sure, I must do without an established genre to serve as a mould for the words that follow.
Perhaps one should consider them a hybrid of anecdotal reminiscences on collaborating and unsystematic paralipomena on the results of one particular instance of scholarly collaboration. True, I do know most of his collaborators, the lady, his wife and the men who worked with Berger on books and investigations of various kinds.
Many I know well, some are good friends of mine. But I do not have much of an idea how Brigitte Berger and Hansfried Kellner collaborated with him on The Homeless Mind I did read that book , and I have even less of a notion how, for example, his collaboration went in the old days with Richard Neuhaus, and more recently with David Martin, for instance; or Hans-Georg Soeffner, and all the others.
There was only one instance, beyond our joint undertakings, when I was a witness to, and marginal participant in, an entirely different kind of large-scale collaboration. That was the project which was sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation in the middle s and presented as a report to the Club of Rome. This also means that I cannot pretend to have an objective perspective on the matter. What follows is to be read with that reservation in mind.
Unsystematic observations on thinking and writing together In the beginning was shared boredom. Great philosopher he was, and a most honourable man in difficult times. From that seminar, however, I remember little but that he read monotonously from one of his essays that treated the dilemma of being both a Christian and a gentleman. In order to keep awake, I started to doodle on paper.
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I know not what, nor do I remember in which language or script. Another student did the same. Berger and I became friends. Berger and I found that we came from partly very similar, partly quite dissimilar milieus from the same background. Our families were rooted in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and we came from its successor states. In a manner of speaking, we talked the same language whether in German or English.
Furthermore, in our conversations it became obvious that we thought in a similar way on many matters.
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For one, we shared the suspicion that some of the reigning intellectual emperors and rulers of social science wore no clothes. Although the happy circumstance of intellectual affinity was serendipitous with regard to our friendship, it was, of course, a necessary condition, first for conceiving the idea that we might engage in joint writing, and then for actually doing so.
Another condition for collaboration, although I cannot say whether necessary or merely very helpful, was that for several years in the early s we both taught at the Graduate Faculty of the New School. We had returned to our alma mater after having started our teaching careers at different colleges and universities in the late s. By that time we had both published several articles in various journals, Berger also had brought out a book or two I remember his The Noise of Solemn Assemblies b , and I was about to publish the early German version of The Invisible Religion.
As students at the Graduate Faculty of the New School, Berger and I had been influenced by Carl Mayer,1 a precise and conscientious Weberian sociologist of religion, and Albert Salomon whose intellectual enthusiasm for returning to the sources directed us to look back to the early history of social thought and to the forefathers of sociology.
But the most important influence on our thinking, certainly on mine, had come from Alfred Schutz. At the early stages of thinking and talking about the project Berger and I were not alone. Several colleagues, former graduate students at the New 20 Thomas Luckmann School and some present ones whom we met in its unique intellectual climate, shared many of our theoretical interests, aversions and philosophical and sociological dispositions. For various reasons the envisioned team fell apart before it was properly constituted. If memory serves, we started to work on it seriously at the beginning of the following fall term.
I have already alluded to the fact that Berger and I had some earlier practice in joint authorship. Before starting on the book we came to call The Social Construction of Reality a — not The Construction of Social Reality, the title of another book by another author — we had written a paper on the sociology of religion and the sociology of knowledge, another on secularization and pluralism, and one on social mobility and personal identity. I do not recall the details of those earlier collaborative efforts.
There certainly were no heated arguments. The few — perhaps not entirely unimportant — issues on which we held different opinions, such as the most appropriate way to define the nature of religion, could be, and were, bracketed for later debate. In later years I fielded many questions about one aspect of our collaboration, especially with regard to The Social Construction of Reality: who wrote what?
This was something that seemed to interest both colleagues and students, and the questions were asked both in formal discussions and in ordinary conversations. However, neither Berger nor I gave much thought to the matter at the time of writing the book nor did we talk about it afterwards. Now, so many years later, writing about our collaboration, I tried to recollect how things went in this respect and if there were any differences between the early jointly written papers Berger and Luckmann, , ; Luckmann and Berger, and The Social Construction of Reality a and the recent book let we wrote together Berger and Luckmann, As far as I can remember, the initiative for the first two papers mentioned above came from Berger.
The paper on the sociology of religion and sociology of knowledge represents joint authorship both in the ideas and in the writing; in a manner of speaking it was also an apprenticeship for the book. The paper on social mobility and personal identity originated in a somewhat different way. I had conceived the main idea for the paper and talked about it with Berger. Eventually, after I had procrastinated with the writing for some Berger and his collaborator s 21 time, Berger became impatient with the slow rate of progress I had made in writing that paper on my own.
It held up our starting on what to both of us was a more important project — The Social Construction of Reality. He joined me as co-author, probably did most of the writing, and greatly speeded up the completion of the work. This little item from the history of the early days of our thinking and writing together intimates something about an aspect of our collaboration which is relevant to the question who wrote what. Berger wrote well and fast — and, as I mentioned earlier, he also typed extremely fast, with two fingers.
I also type fast, with one or two more fingers than Berger, but not only do I write slowly in the first place, I also spend much time in rewriting what I have written. I think that Berger generally did more of the actual writing than I did, also in the writing of The Social Construction of Reality. As for the thinking, I should say that with the exception of the first two chapters, we contributed equally to the development of the main propositions of the book.
In any case, few of the ideas were ours to begin with. If, standing on the shoulders of giants, we succeeded in remoulding and synthesizing their ideas, Berger and I thought in such synchrony and harmony that it would be impossible to attribute solo arias to one or the other. And so to the mechanics. We met once a week on a fairly regular basis, discussed the next step, sketched the argument to be presented, occasionally found a formulation that seemed good enough to be taken down they did not always stand the test of time , and decided on the next step.
Berger wrote out the results of the meeting, gave me a copy when we met at the university or sent it to me by mail. If I had any pertinent suggestions, amendments, objections or second thoughts, I passed them on to him if there was time or raised them at the next meeting. The first part of our meetings was regularly devoted to what by then had become part of the slowly agglomerating text. If that sounds as if two ex-ex-AustroHungarians had forgotten their heritage and embraced the spirit of Prussian order, the sound is misleading.
In the background was to be heard the light, although often enough profoundly philosophical, music of the mostly Jewish jokes which Berger had heard since we had last met. In our smallish apartment on Washington Square my wife and two young daughters were neither invisible nor inaudible. Writing books is work; I am not fond of work.
That particular book was an exception to the implied syllogism: it did not feel like work and I have fond memories of the gestation of that book. As I mentioned earlier, the treatment of the first two chapters was somewhat different from the way we wrote the rest of the book. His acquaintance with Marx, Mannheim, Scheler and others was closer than mine. The chapter on the foundations of knowledge in everyday life is a summary formulation by Berger of the first chapters of The Structures of the Life-World Schutz and Luckmann, which had already been completed by me at that time although they were published much later.
Their phenomenological, Schutzian character is unmistakable. For more than a quarter of a century Berger and I did not work together again. We saw each other frequently but not regularly both in the United States and in Europe; we corresponded; I was supplied with the newest and some old jokes.
But even when I returned to the United States for longer periods we never lived near one another again. Retirement was not yet close in those years, and Berger and I did not enter the planning stage for a half-serious retirement project about which we occasionally talked at that time. Now it seems that we are both getting too old to retire, be it to Meran or elsewhere. In the early s, after participating in a symposium on the so-called crisis of meaning, I was asked by the people responsible for the Cultural Orientations section of the Bertelsmann Foundation to write what they called an expertise on modernity and pluralism.
I immediately suggested that Berger — whose province these topics were as much or more than mine — join me in the project. They were enthusiastic, and so another, late, instance of joint authorship came about. In spite of the fact that an ocean lay between us, our collaboration was remarkably similar in its intellectual features to the earlier instances of thinking and working together. This time we did not write anything particularly new. Our task was to formulate our views on the matter for a readership without sociological inclinations.
Furthermore, the ocean could be crossed. After meetings in Europe, and some correspondence, I spent a week or so in Boston. There was a division of labour with regard to the language of publication. An English translation by J. Adam Tooze was to be looked at by Berger. Scattered reflections on the results of collaboration The following remarks deal only with a minor aspect of the results of our collaboration.