Werner Sombart

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sombart, Werner


Born Jan. 19, 1863, in Ermsleben, Harz; died May 18, 1941, in Berlin. German economist, sociologist, and historian. Philosopher of culture. Student of G. von Schmoller. Professor at the universities of Breslau (1890) and Berlin (1906).

Sombart’s early works demonstrated the influence of Marxism, but he later opposed historical materialism and the economic teachings of K. Marx. His works are primarily devoted to the economic history of Western Europe, specifically the rise of capitalism (he collected enormous amounts of factual material) and problems of socialism and social movements. Attempting to unite the study of economics and theoretical explanations of social life, Sombart developed a concept of “an economic system” as a certain integral phenomenon giving rise to specific economic institutions and representing an expression of the “spirit” of a society (Sombart identifies the concepts of spirit and society).

Sombart attempted to establish his own theory of primary accumulation, introducing the accumulation of feudal land rent as a primary source of the accumulation of capital. Beginning in the 1920’s, Sombart’s ideas were used by reactionary political circles in Germany.


Noo-Soziologie. Berlin, 1956.
Studien zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des modernen Kapitalismus, vols. 1–2. Munich-Leipzig, 1913.
Die Zukunft des Kapitalismus. Berlin, 1932.
Deutscher Sozialismus. Berlin, 1934.
In Russian translation:
Sotsializm i sotsial’noe dvizhenie v 19 stoletii. St. Petersburg, 1902.
Khudozhestvennaia promyshlennosr’ i kul’ tura. St. Petersburg [no date].
Idealy sotsial’noi politiki. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Burzhua. Moscow, 1924.
Narodnoe khoziaistvo v Germanii v 19 iv nach. 20 v. Moscow, 1924.


Lunacharskii, A. V. “Zombart o dushe burzhua.” In his book Meshchanstvo i individualism. Moscow-Petrograd, 1923. Pages 202–23.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1902, Werner Sombart, another socialist, published Modern Capitalism.
Based on careful scholarship, Ghosh makes it clear what was and what was not adopted by Weber from such influences as Rudolf Sohm (credited as the original source of the concept of "charisma") and what was and was not rejected in the thinking of such contemporaries as Werner Sombart (who preceded Weber in addressing the issue of the "spirit" of capitalism).
During the first conference of the German Society for Sociology (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Soziologie) that was held in Frankfurt in 1910, Werner Sombart gave one of the speeches.
"From 1914 onward," wrote Hayek, "there arose from the ranks of Marxist socialism one teacher after another who led, not the conservatives and the reactionaries, but the hardworking laborer and idealist youth into the National Socialist fold." To socialist Werner Sombart, whose book Handler und Helden ("Merchants and Heroes") appeared in 1915, the heroes were the German warriors, and the first World War was the welcome opportunity for the heroic German culture to triumph over the decadent commercial civilization of England.
The question of when and how capitalism got started in Europe is one of the more vexed questions in history, beginning at least with the writings of Max Weber and Werner Sombart. According to Amintore Fanfani, the weakening of Catholic belief gave "the spirit of capitalism" (natural human acquisitiveness in its modern manifestation) the opportunity to assert itself as early as the beginning of the second millennium a.d., as it took advantage of a relaxed social opprobrium with regard to the quest for greater profits unimpaired by notions of just price and fair competition imposed by the guild economy operating in agreement with the economic teachings of the Church.
As Reuveni notes, there exists a history of sorts of scholarly inquiry into Jews and the economy, from the highly influential 1875 essay of Wilhelm Roscher through the early twentieth century works of Georg Caro, Ignaz Schipper, and Werner Sombart's infamous work on Jews and capitalism, and the mid-twentieth century research of Bernard Weinryb, Guido Kisch and others.
Deriving from Marx, Werner Sombart transposes this idea under a Hindu influence and expresses it in Krieg und Kapitalismus in relation with indigence (material destruction) which have always triggered the rise of new creative forces (as the limited existence of wood led to the discovery and use of alternative materials in constructions).
JG-W: There was a German economist at the beginning of the 20th century called Werner Sombart, who I hadn't heard of before.
Over time, the Jews have acquired control over monetary assets and wealth in their communities; according to Werner Sombart, the interest-loan system is a gift from the Jews to Europe in the emergence of Western capitalism.
Desde una perspectiva mas economica que politico-moral, Manuel Vaquero Pineiro analiza la acumulacion y el empleo de riquezas en la curia pontificia de la Edad Moderna usando los paradigmas interpretativos de Max Weber e Werner Sombart.