An effort to defend the discipline of sociology against charges that it represents a cluster of apologists for the Establishment. Schneider chooses two promising tacks: he tries to show that sociologists actually rely on finding ""a 'mocking discrepancy' between the way things are and the way they are supposed to be,"" and then attempts to identify sociologists' actual contributions to human knowledge. On both counts, however, he flops -- and not least by writing down to the reader. Who does not already know the ""irony"" that mental hospitals often drive inmates crazier, or that people often exhibit ""religious impulses?"" Schneider's dreary naivete peaks when he deals with specific sociological thinkers: the likes of Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner could not have been ""Establishment lackeys"" because they fretted so much over certain U.S. foreign adventures. Likewise the New York Times, according to Schneider, is immune to charges of media manipulation bemuse it occasionally attacks the ruling faction. The radical attack on sociology by Alvin Gouldner (The Coming Crisis in Western Sociology, 1972) and others with their critique of Talcott Parsons et al. may be excessively academic and their neglect of Durkheim in particular should be remedied. But Schneider's Sunday-afternoon approach to the subject -- fueled by such insights as ""The death of loved ones is likely to be quite disorganizing and even productive of temporary despair"" -- leaves us with a net deficit of irony.