Ferdinand Tönnies

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Tönnies, Ferdinand


Born July 26, 1855, in Riep, near Oldenswort; died Apr. 11, 1935, in Kiel. German sociologist and one of the fathers of professional sociology in Germany.

Tönnies was a lecturer at the University of Kiel from 1881 to 1933, when he was dismissed from his post by the Nazis. His most important work was Community and Society (1887). Tönnies regarded social relationships as volitional, subdividing them according to the type of will manifested; the natural instinctive will (Wesenwille) lies behind man, as it were, and guides his behavior, while the rational will (Kürwille) presumes the possibility of choice and a consciously formulated goal of action. Maternal love may serve as an example of natural will, and commerce as an example of rational will. Natural will gives birth to community (Gemeinschaft); rational will, to society (Gesellschaft). A community is maintained by instincts, feelings, and organic relations, while a society is governed by calculating reason and mechanical relations. More and more, in the course of history, the first type of relationship has given way to the second. In a later work, Introduction to Sociology (1931), Tönnies proposed a more complex classification that included relationships of dominance and comradeship and the relations of groups and associations.

In spite of the psychologism of Tönnies’ concepts—that is, his classification of social relationships according to types of will—a number of his ideas were highly important. Tönnies was one of the first to advocate a strictly logical system of sociological concepts. Behind the contraposition of community and society lies the problem of the transition from feudal and patriarchal relations—and generally from relations of personal dependence and traditional forms of culture—to capitalist relations. Tönnies’ numerous empirical works were a significant contribution to scientific study. While adverse to the idea of revolution, Tönnies nonetheless acknowledged the great scientific importance of K. Marx’ works and corresponded with F. Engels. Tönnies was a consistent democrat and antifascist. He openly opposed racism, calling it “modern barbarism.”


Die Sitte. Frankfurt am Main, 1909.
Der englische Stoat und der deutsche Staat. Berlin, 1917.
Marx: Leben und Lehre. Jena, 1921.
Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung. Berlin, 1922.
T. Hobbes: Leben und Lehre, 3rd ed. Stuttgart, 1925.
Soziologische Studien und Kritiken, vols. 1–3. Jena, 1925–29.
Die Entwicklung der sozialen Frage bis zum Weltkrieg, 4th ed. Berlin-Leipzig, 1926.
Das Eigentum. Vienna-Leipzig, 1926.
Fortschritt und soziale Entwicklung: Geschichtsphilosophische Ansichten. Karlsruhe, 1926.
Geist der Neuzeit. Leipzig, 1935.


Bellebaum, A. Das soziologische System von F. Tönnies unter besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner soziographischen Untersuchungen. Meisenheim am Glan, 1966.
Cahnman, W. J., ed. F. Tönnies. Leiden, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
La impresion de perdida, es decir, el sentimiento de que la modernizacion se lleva algo valioso de nuestro mundo y de nuestras vidas seria, hasta cierto punto, inherente al transito desde una sociedad en la que imperan relaciones comunitarias y familiares, a otra en la que prevalecen relaciones contractuales impersonales (Gesellschaft y Gemeinschaft, en el lenguaje de Ferdinand Tonnies).
But even if they had used the term, they are today remembered as chief proponents not of Gemeinschaft, in the sense of Ferdinand Tonnies, but of Gesellschaft, a rationally ordered aggregation of people, as Weber himself had explicated.
Lindner differentiates between "radical" and "moderate," "conservative" and "progressive" advocates but, significantly, what united life-ideologues of all hues was the tendency to think in anti-pluralistic categories of social homogeneity; to find resolutions of the dialectic mentioned above through "creative destruction" and a collective "rebirth." Such a rebirth would offer the individual access to a heightened experience through unity with the collective "organism." As early as the 1880s, the outlines of this argument had been sketched by the sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies, who denigrated "society" as mechanistic and artificial in comparison to "the community," which was laudably organic and authentic, i.e.
Breivik also cites Ferdinand Tonnies's concept of Gemeinschali: "In the concept of Gemeinschaft, human co-existence is of great significance, a fact that undoubtedly contributed strongly to the concept becoming one of the magical words of the Weimar Republic" (p.
Understanding Ferdinand Tonnies' Community and Society; social theory and political philosophy between enlighted liberal individualism and transfigured community.
His interventions illustrate the way an individual navigated an "ethnicized" social network and circulated resources between the market economy and the gift economy, spheres that Ferdinand Tonnies termed the Gesellschaft and the Gemeinschaft (1887).
The alleged loss of sense of community was a central theme in the work of Ferdinand Tonnies (C.
Esta complejidad analitica se evidencia en el examen que Pablo de Marinis realiza sobre el pensamiento de Ferdinand Tonnies en torno a la comunidad.
Quien reflexione sobre el concepto de comunidad (Gemeinschaft) y su importancia cientifica es remitido todavia actualmente al estudio de Ferdinand Tonnies que lleva como titulo Comunidad y sociedad, el cual entretanto se considera ya como un clasico.
376) recurriendo a un clasico en parte olvidado de la sociologia, pero imprescindible si de pensar la comunidad se trata: Ferdinand Tonnies. El pensamiento sobre la comunidad, nos cuenta de Marinis, tuvo en Tonnies, tres formas simultaneas: "Por un lado, otorgarle a la comunidad un status de <<concepto normal>>, abstracto y <<vaciado>> de historia" (p.
Our effort will be easier due to the investigations of the German thinker Ferdinand Tonnies [2].
Para contextualizar a sociedade buscou-se desenvolver aspectos acerca do estereotipo e das tematicas adjuntas como: identidade, comunidade, sociedade e coabitacao, partindo das ideias de Walter Lippmann, Bruno Mazzara, Ferdinand Tonnies e outros autores da psicologia, sociologia e neurociencia.