Gemeinschafts are broadly characterized by a moderate division of labour, 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.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are sociological categories introduced by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies for two normal types of human association. (A normal type as coined by Tönnies is a purely conceptual tool to be built up logically, whereas an ideal type, as coined by Max Weber, is a concept formed by accentuating main elements of a historic/social change.) Tönnies' concepts of both Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, strictly separated from each other conceptually, are fully discussed in his work “Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft” (1887), seven more German editions during his life time, last: Darmstadt 2005). The second edition of 1912 turned out to be an unexpected success, and the antagonism of these two terms belonged to the general stock of concepts German pre-1933 intellectuals were quite familiar with and quite often misunderstood.
Gemeinschaft (often translated as community) is an association in which individuals are oriented to the large association as much if not more than to their own self interest. Furthermore, individuals in Gemeinschaft are regulated by common mores, or beliefs about the appropriate behavior and responsibility of members of the association, to each other and to the association at large; associations 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.