Sociology Index

GEMEINSCHAFT AND GESELLSCHAFT

Gemeinschaft is a form of social integration based on personal ties; more a community than an association as in Gesellschaft. Gemeinschaft is a German word, translated as ‘community’, used by sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies (1855-1936) to define an ‘ideal type’, or model, society where social bonds are personal and direct and there are strong shared values and beliefs.

Characteristic of small scale, localized societies, it is in contrast to Gesellschaft which refers to complex, impersonal societies. American sociologist Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) amplified the contrasts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft with his pattern variable value alternatives. Gesellschaft is a form of social integration based on impersonal ties; more an association than a community as in Gemeinschaft.

A German word, translated as ‘society-association’, used by Ferdinand Tonnies (1855-1936) to refer to an ‘ideal type’, or model, of a society where social bonds are primarily impersonal, instrumental and narrow.

Characteristic of large scale, complex societies, with a strict division between private and public spheres of life, it contrasts to the community-oriented life of the Gemeinschaft.

American sociologist Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) amplified the contrast of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft with his ‘pattern variable’ value alternatives.

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft Abstracts

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: Testing the Spatial and Communal Hypotheses 
JAMES A. CHRISTENSON, University of Kentucky 
Abstract: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft often have been and still are equated with the rural-urban continuum and are employed to describe the "way of life" or the "moral basis" for rural/urban living.
In 1887 Toennies introduced the terms Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, which are the discipline's concepts for studying social change". Gemeinschaft describes primary interactional relationships based on sentiment; while Gesellschaft describes an interactional system characterized by self-interest. Much of rural and urban sociological theory has looked to these concepts as "ideal types."

Finding face between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Marina Terkourafi, University of Illinois
The terms Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft were introduced into sociology by Ferdinand Tönnies to describe two different types of social organization. A Gemeinschaft (often ‘community’ in English) is characterized by a network of personal relationships, common values and ideals, and a strong sense of group belonging. Because in a Gemeinschaft individual existence is possible only within and via the group, self-regulation prevails and there is little need for external arbitration. By contrast, in a Gesellschaft. I wish to explore the relationship between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and face as this is instantiated in contemporary Greek society.

The Work of Rural Professionals: Doing the Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft Gavotte - Mellow Muriel
I argue that conventional standards of professional behavior reflect an urban bias and that rural life problematizes the notion of professionalism. Those working in rural places are caught trying to dance between the "tunes" of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft society.

'Gemeinschaft' skills versus 'gesellschaft' skills in social work education and practice. Applying Tönnies' dichotomy for a model of intercultural communication
Author: KORNBECK Jacob ; Social work education
Abstract: F. Tönnies's Gemeinschaft'/Gesellschaft' dichotomy is discussed as an analytical and explanatory framework for identifying individual social work education modules' relevance to immigration related and migration related problems in social work practice. It is claimed that 'Gemeinschaft' (community) skills are especially needed in these practice contexts, as opposed to the more scientific, legal or administrative Gesellschaft'(state, society) skills. Two empirical evidence studies from Germany dealing with the necessary competencies for social workers advising immigrants are drawn upon.

Community and Society: (GEMEINSCHAFT AND GESELLSCHAFT) - Ferdinand Tonnies. Gemeinschaft, often translated as community. Gesellschaft often translated as society. A society is a group of people that form a semi-closed (or semi-open) system, in which most social interaction are with other individuals belonging to the group. Gemeinschaft may by exemplified by a family or a neighbourhood; Gesellschaft by a joint-stock company or a state. Groupings formed around an essential will are called a Gemeinschaft. The other will is the arbitrary will. Groupings around the latter are called Gesellschaft. Whereas the membership in a Gemeinschaft is self-fulfilling, a Gesellschaft is instrumental for its members.

"Out of the Gemeinschaft: A Urban Community Transitions" - Graves, Erin. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, TBA, New York, New York City
Sociologists have assigned a variety of characterizations to forms of social relations. Gemeinschaft, typified by a distinctive way of life contrasts with Gesellschaft relations which are emotionally disengaged. There is a theoretical gap between how a community transforms a Gemeinschaft community into a Gesellschaft association.

From Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft: A Case Study of Student Transition from Elementary School to High School. - Ahola-Sidaway, Janice A.
Two theoretical perspectives provided the basis for the analysis: symbolic interactionism and Ferdinand Tonnies' distinction between "Gemeinschaft" (Community) and "Gesellschaft" (Association). The paper concludes with general reflections on the findings of the study with respect to the issue of school size, the differing socialization environments of elementary and high school, attitudes toward work, student relationships, and staff-student relationships.

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: Testing the Spatial and Communal Hypotheses
JAMES A. CHRISTENSON, University of Kentucky
Toennies introduced the terms Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, concepts for studying social change." Much of rural and urban sociological theory has looked to these concepts as "ideal types."

"Between 'American Gesellschaft' and 'Québécois Gemeinschaft': Constructing the Boundaries of the Canadian Multicultural Nation". - Winter, Elke. - Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Montreal Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
There are serious backlashes against multicultural policies throughout the Western world. In Canada, by contrast, multiculturalism has survived an international climate characterized by financial recession, fear of terrorism, and security concerns.

Extending his sociological perspective to include a social psychology, Tönnies conceived of social formations as expressions of the human will.

Gemeinschaft in Gesellschaft - by Michael Opielka (Author)

The Urban Experience: Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft - Urban Affairs Review.

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: A sociological view of the decay of modern society.    

From Marcello Truzzi, Sociology: The Classic Statements. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.