Ferdinand Tönnies

(redirected from Tonnies)

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 ?
With a lot of speculation over his future, chairman of Schalke's supervisory board Clemens Tonnies has insisted there will be an update before the end of the month.
The previous fastest hat-trick was scored by Duisburg's Michael Tonnies in 1991 in a six-minute spell.
Bond shows how Tonnies drew on a varied intellectual and methodological tool-kit that spans classical liberal philosophers of the state, the existential pragmatics of Nietzsche, natural law, positivism, and affinities with other German sociologists of the era, like Marx and Weber.
Midfielder Boateng moved from Milan to Germany in the transfer window and Schalke chairman Clemens Tonnies said Putin gave the deal a thumbs-up.
And Schalke's president Clemens Tonnies has conceded that they would be powerless to prevent Draxler leaving if a giant from abroad came calling.
He returned to the club last year and sealed Champions League football but chairman Clemens Tonnies insisted he had to be sacked.
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.
With these comments, Stasch critiques a long list of sociological and anthropological authors, starting with Tonnies on account of his simplistic nineteenth century Gemeinschaft--Gesellschaft dichotomy.
And chairman Clemens Tonnies claimed the former West Germany midfielder had lost the dressing room.
An international agent approached me and informed me Manchester United are interested in Neuer," said Tonnies.
However, they have lost key matches at home to Bayern Munich (1-2) and away to Bayer Leverkusen (1-2) this month, and tensions appear to be increasing between chairman Clemens Tonnies and manager Fred Rutten.
High-performance freezing technology--with a minimum of defrost cycles as well as low maintenance costs--is essential to successful and efficient production for modern industrial factories such as Tonnies Fleisch.