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Peter Ludwig Berger (born March 17, 1929) is an American sociologist and theologian well known for his work The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York, 1966), which he co-authored with Thomas Luckmann.


Berger was born in Trieste, Italy, then raised in Vienna and later emigrated to the United States shortly after World War II. In 1949 he graduated from Wagner College with a Bachelor of Arts. He continued his studies at the New School for Social Research in New York (M.A. in 1950, Ph. D. in 1952).

In 1955 and 1956 he worked at the Evangelische Akademie in Bad Boll, Germany. From 1956 to 1958 Berger was an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina; from 1958 to 1963 he was an associate professor at Hartford Theological Seminary. The next stations in his career were professorships at the New School for Social Research, Rutgers University, and Boston College. Since 1981 Berger has been Professor of Sociology and Theology at Boston University, and since 1985 also director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture, which transformed, a few years ago, into the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs[1].


Berger is perhaps best known for his view that sociology is a form of consciousness. Central to Berger's work is the relationship between society and the individual. In his book The Social Construction of Reality Berger develops a sociological theory: 'Society as Objective Reality and as Subjective Reality'. His analysis of society as subjective reality studies how reality has produced and keeps producing individuals. He writes about how new human concepts or inventions become a part of our reality (a process he calls reification) [2].

His conception of social structure resolving around the importance of language: "the most important sign system of human society," is similar to Hegel's conception of Geist.[3].

He is renowned for his failure in predicting the all-encompassing secularization of the world. This he has quite humorously admitted on a number of occasions. The later Berger recognizes that religion (both old and new) is still about, still going strong, but that the pluralism of the globalized world fundamentally changes how the individual experiences faith.


The influential sociological works of Berger include:

  • Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective (1963)
  • The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (1966, with Thomas Luckmann)ISBN 0140135480
  • The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (1967)
  • A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural, 1970.

Today he writes on the sociology of religion and capitalism:

  • The Capitalist Spirit: Toward a Religious Ethic of Wealth Creation (editor, 1990).
  • Peter Berger and the Study of Religion, 2001
  • Homeless Mind : Modernization and Consciousness, 1974 ISBN 0394719948
  • Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience, 1997
  • Many Globalizations: Cultural Diversity in the Contemporary World, 1974. with Samuel P. Huntington
  • The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. et al. 1999
  • Questions of Faith: A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity (Religion and the Modern World), 2003
  • A Far Glory: The Quest for Faith in an Age of Credibility, 1992.
  • Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation
  • The Limits of Social Cohesion: Conflict and Mediation in Pluralist Societies : A Report of the Bertelsmann Foundation to the Club of RomeISBN 0813367190
  • Other Side of God, 1981, ISBN 0385174241


Berger is doctor honoris causa of Loyola University, Wagner College, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Geneva, and Munich University. He is an honorary member of many scientific associations.

See also


  • James D. Hunter, Stephen C. Ainley. Making Sense of Modern Times: Peter L. Berger and the Vision of Interpretive Sociology
  • Robert Wuthnow. Cultural Analysis: The Work of Peter L. Berger, Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, and Jurgen Habermas

External links

de:Peter L. Berger id:Peter L. Berger fr:Peter Berger

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