Tönnies Ferdinand

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Tönnies Ferdinand

(1855-1936) German sociologist and founder of the German Sociological Association, who is above all remembered for his coining of the terms GEMEINSCHAFT AND GESELLSCHAFT, which was based on a distinction between ‘natural will’ (Wesenwille), including habitual as well as instinctual action, and ‘rational will’ (Kurwille), including INSTRUMENTAL RATIONALITY. Both sets of distinctions were IDEAL TYPES, and were used by Tönnies to analyse historical changes in social organization, including the social problems created by the breakdown of traditional social structures. Tönnies concepts, and aspects of his thesis of a loss of COMMUNITY in modern societies, are not dissimilar from those of WEBER or, to a lesser extent, MARX. They form one influence on the work of the CHICAGO SCHOOL. They were also one of the sources of PARSONS formulation of PATTERN VARIABLES.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000