peter berger and tobacco sociology


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Eminent sociologist Peter Berger has died. The New York Times has a lengthy obituary here. In my neck of the woods, Berger is most known for his book, with Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. Berger and Luckmann introduced a vocabulary for understanding the process of social construction (externalization, objectification, internalization, habitualization, etc.) that has been applied widely, including especially in institutional theory in organizational sociology. Elsewhere, Berger is known for his extensive work in the sociology of religion.

At the same time as the laudatory obituaries circulate, I am a bit troubled by one omission: Berger’s work for the tobacco industry. As documented by Glantz et al (2008)’s article on the role of sociologists in defending tobacco from public health critics in the 1970s-1980s, and discussed more at Sourcewatch, Peter Berger was deeply involved with pro-tobacco social science. For example, in the industry-commissioned book Smoking…

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