Georgii Gurvitch

Gurvitch, Georgii Davydovich


Born Nov. 2, 1894, in Novorossiisk; died Dec. 10, 1965, in Paris. Positivist sociologist. Professor at the universities of Tomsk and Petrograd (1915–21).

A supporter of Menshevism, Gurvitch emigrated in 1921. In 1935 he became a professor of sociology at the University of Strasbourg. During World War II (1939–45) he lived in the USA. In 1948 he became a professor at the Sorbonne. He was the founder and director of the journal Cahiers internationaux de sociologie, which began publication in 1946. He was also the organizer of the French National Scientific Research Center (1948) and the founder and president of the Institute of Sociology (1953–56).

Gurvitch began with a study of the history of political and legal doctrines, in which he was influenced by J. Fichte and H. Bergson. Subsequently, he was affected by the writings of J. J. Rousseau and P. J. Proudhon, as well as those of E. Durkheim and M. Weber, and he worked out an idealist concept of general sociology, which he called dialectical hyperempiricism and counterposed to Marxist sociology.

For Gurvitch, the main problems are freedom of choice for the individual and for society at various levels of reality. He sees as the basis of social relations the integrity of individual consciousness, which constitutes the “microelement” of social reality. (Gurvitch is sometimes regarded as belonging to the so-called school of microsociology.) He sees social reality as a constantly changing system of collective human activity, the various “levels” of which are found in dynamic interconnection with the “social frameworks,” that is, the different forms of collectivity: the “macro” units (social groups, classes, or global societies) and the “micro” units (communities and communalities). Gurvitch also studied the problems of the sociology of knowledge, ideology, morality, and law.

In his civic activity, Gurvitch opposed fascism and technocracy and was a supporter of peace and the national-liberation movement.


Dialectique et sociologie. Paris, 1962.
La Vocation actuelle de la sociologie, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1963.
Déterminisme s sociaux et liberté humaine, 2nd ed. Paris, 1963.
Traité de sociologie, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Paris, 1963.
Les Cadres sociaux de la connaissance. Paris, 1966.
In Russian translation:
“Budushchee sovremennykh sotsial’nykh struktur.” In Kakoe budushchee ozhidaet chelovechestvo? Prague, 1964.


Toulement, R. Sociologie et pluralisme dialectique. Louvain-Paris, 1955.
Bosserman, P. Dialectical Sociology. Boston, 1968.