Patterson noted that until the 1970s or so, you had quite a few sociologists who captured the public’s imagination such as David Riesman and C. Wright Mills. After that time, prominent sociologists decreased in the public imagination.Fabio raises several hypotheses for why you might believe Patterson or not. On the negative side, I would like to raise another, which is just that ideas of the existence of "quite a few sociologists who captured the public's imagination" then as opposed to now is wildly overblown. Evidence? If Fabio had just included blanks instead of the names of Riesman and Mills, experienced sociologists would have guessed exactly which two names to fill in. If there was such a public sociology efflorescence back then, why wouldn't there be a larger pool of salient examples? (Especially since The Lonely Crowd was published in 1950 and The Power Elite in 1956, and apparently Patterson was talking about a 20-30 year period.)
Not even to mention that Tuesdays with Morrie probably outsold The Power Elite and The Lonely Crowd combined. Why doesn't sociology do more with its Tuesdays with Morrie legacy. I say, Every Day With Morrie!*
BTW, Dan has written an enthusiastic post about Gladwell's acceptance of the award. Meanwhile, I seem to remember being on a panel at the Eastern Sociological Society meetings this spring in which another panelist, a sociologist of some prominence, alleged with considerable irritation that Gladwell interviewed the sociologist Duncan Watts for three days for the Tipping Point and then wildly undercredited his contribution in the book.
* OK, so I don't actually say that. However, I do have a friend who has talked about getting an EDWM tattoo.
Update: Thanks to Brayden, the commenting problem appears resolved.