Alvin Gouldner and the sociology of ideas: Lessons from Enter Plato

Charles Camic*, Neil Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Alvin Gouldner's 1965 book Enter Plato is one of the most important contributions ever made to the sociology of ideas. Overshadowed soon after its publication, however, by Gouldner's more controversial work, The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology, the earlier book has suffered neglect. In an effort to correct this situation, we situate Enter Plato against the backdrop of other mid-twentieth-century works in the sociology of knowledge and related areas, arguing that Gouldner's study was one of the first sustained responses to Robert K. Merton's call for a sociology of knowledge that would steer a middle course between the abstract, speculative tendencies of the field's European founders and the relatively atheoretical contributions of their American counterparts. We build on this interpretation to offer a contemporary sociological appraisal of Enter Plato, considering its positive and negative lessons for sociologists of knowledge and ideas at the present time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-110
Number of pages14
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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