Peter Berger, “Sociology and Freedom”

Category : Sociology

Sociology, greatly to the surprise of most of its older practitioners, has acquired the reputation of a liberating discipline. Sociology courses are crowded with students in search of the intellectual tools with which to demolish the hypocritical world of their elders and fashion for themselves, if not for society at large, a new authenticity and a new freedom. Even more astonishing expectations are directed toward sociology by students who adhere to the radical left. For them, sociology is nothing less than the theoretical arm of revolutionary praxis, that is, a liberating discipline in the literal sense of a radical transformation of the social order. It is sociology in this latter understanding that has been associated with the remark able proportion of students of the field who are among leading activists of the New Left, both in America and in western Europe to the point where there now are firms in Germany and in France screening job applicants in order to bar those who have taken sociology courses. Even in this country, where sociology is established more firmly in academia, there are places where the field has taken on a slightly disreputable flavor.

Source: The American Sociologist  6.1 (Feb 1971): 1-5

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