Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

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Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft ɡəˈzɛlʃaft (lit. community and society) are sociological
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 categories introduced by the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

 for two normal type
Normal type
In sociology, the typological term normal type was coined by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies...

s of human association. (A normal type
Normal type
In sociology, the typological term normal type was coined by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies...

, as coined by Tönnies, is a purely conceptual tool to be built up logically, whereas an ideal type
Ideal type
Ideal type , also known as pure type, is a typological term most closely associated with antipositivist sociologist Max Weber . For Weber, the conduct of social science depends upon the construction of hypothetical concepts in the abstract...

, as coined by Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, is a concept formed by accentuating main elements of a historic/social change.) Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft sparked a major revival of corporatist
Corporatism
Corporatism, also known as corporativism, is a system of economic, political, or social organization that involves association of the people of society into corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labor, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of common...

 thinking including sparking the rise of Neo-medievalism
Neo-medievalism
Neo-medievalism is a neologism that was first popularized by Italian medievalist Umberto Eco in his 1973 essay "Dreaming in the Middle Ages"...

, rise of support for guild socialism
Guild socialism
Guild socialism is a political movement advocating workers' control of industry through the medium of trade-related guilds. It originated in the United Kingdom and was at its most influential in the first quarter of the 20th century. It was strongly associated with G. D. H...

, and caused major changes in the field of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

.

Tönnies' concepts of both terms “Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft” were published first in 1887. Seven more German editions came out during his lifetime, the last in 1935. The second edition of 1912 turned out to be an unexpected but lasting success, and the antagonism
Antagonism
Antagonism is hostility that results in active resistance, opposition, or contentiousness.Additionally, it may refer to:*Antagonism , where the involvement of multiple agents reduces their overall effect...

 of these two terms belonged to the general stock of concepts pre-1933 German intellectuals were quite familiar with, though the concepts were quite often misunderstood.

Gemeinschaft


Gemeinschaft (often translated as community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

) is an association in which individuals are oriented to the large association as much as, if not more than, to their own self interest. Furthermore, individuals in Gemeinschaft are regulated by common mores
Mores
Mores, in sociology, are any given society's particular norms, virtues, or values. The word mores is a plurale tantum term borrowed from Latin, which has been used in the English language since the 1890s....

, or beliefs about the appropriate behavior and responsibility of members of the association, to each other and to the association at large; associations are marked by "unity of will" (Tönnies, 22). Tönnies saw the family as the most perfect expression of Gemeinschaft; however, he expected that Gemeinschaft could be based on shared place and shared belief as well as kinship, and he included globally dispersed religious communities as possible examples of Gemeinschaft. Gemeinschaft community involves ascribed status. You are given a status by birth. For example, an individual born of farmer, will come to occupy the parent's role until death.

Gemeinschaften are broadly characterized by a moderate division of labour
Division of labour
Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and likeroles. Historically an increasingly complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation...

, strong personal relationships, strong families, and relatively simple social institutions. In such societies there is seldom a need to enforce social control externally, due to a collective sense of loyalty individuals feel for society.

Gesellschaft


In contrast, Gesellschaft (often translated as society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

or civil society or 'association') describes associations in which, for the individual, the larger association never takes precedence over the individual's self interest, and these associations lack the same level of shared mores. Gesellschaft is maintained through individuals acting in their own self interest. A modern business is a good example of Gesellschaft: the workers, managers, and owners may have very little in terms of shared orientations or beliefs, they may not care deeply for the product they are making, but it is in all their self interest to come to work to make money, and thus the business continues. Gesellschaft society involves achieved status. You reach your status by education and work, for example, through the attainment of goals, or attendance at University.

Unlike Gemeinschaften, Gesellschaften emphasize secondary relationships rather than familial or community ties, and there is generally less individual loyalty to society. Social cohesion
Social cohesion
Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena...

 in Gesellschaften typically derives from a more elaborate division of labor. Such societies are considered more susceptible to class conflict
Class conflict
Class conflict is the tension or antagonism which exists in society due to competing socioeconomic interests between people of different classes....

 as well as racial and ethnic conflicts. The sociological upheavals during the Reconstruction era of the United States complicated the sociological category of Gemeinschaft because former slaves, whose kinship ties were complicated under slavery, forged new communities that shared aspects of both Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft.

Since, for Tönnies, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are normal type
Normal type
In sociology, the typological term normal type was coined by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies...

s
, he considered them a matter of pure sociology, whereas he expected to find only a mix of them in applied sociology, on doing empirical research. Nevertheless, following Tönnies, without normal types one might not be able to analyze this mix.

Outside sociology


In business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 usage, Gesellschaft is the German term for "company
Company
A company is a form of business organization. It is an association or collection of individual real persons and/or other companies, who each provide some form of capital. This group has a common purpose or focus and an aim of gaining profits. This collection, group or association of persons can be...

", as in Aktiengesellschaft
Aktiengesellschaft
Aktiengesellschaft is a German term that refers to a corporation that is limited by shares, i.e. owned by shareholders, and may be traded on a stock market. The term is used in Germany, Austria and Switzerland...

or Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung
Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung
Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung is a type of legal entityvery common in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other Central European countries...

(GmbH).

See also

  • Normal type
    Normal type
    In sociology, the typological term normal type was coined by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies...

  • Ideal type
    Ideal type
    Ideal type , also known as pure type, is a typological term most closely associated with antipositivist sociologist Max Weber . For Weber, the conduct of social science depends upon the construction of hypothetical concepts in the abstract...

  • Social action
  • Collaborative innovation network
  • Verstehen
    Verstehen
    Verstehen is an ordinary German word with exactly the same meaning as the English word "understand". However, since the late 19th century in the context of German philosophy and social sciences, it has also been used in the special sense of "interpretive or participatory examination" of social...

  • Antipositivism
    Antipositivism
    Antipositivism is the view in social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world; that academics must reject empiricism and the scientific method in the conduct of research...

  • Structure and agency
    Structure and agency
    The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

  • Reflexivity
    Reflexivity (social theory)
    Reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a situation that does not render both functions causes and effects...

  • Organic and Mechanical Solidarity
    Solidarity (sociology)
    Solidarity is the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group with people and their neighbors. It refers to the ties in a society - social relations - that bind people to one another. The term is generally employed in sociology and the other social sciences.What...

  • Identity politics
    Identity politics
    Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups and ways in which people's politics may be shaped by aspects of their identity through race, class, religion, sexual orientation or traditional dominance...