Wiese, Leopold Von

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wiese, Leopold Von


Born Feb. 2, 1876, in Glatz, present-day Ktodzko. German sociologist. Professor at Hannover (1908-11) and the University of Cologne (from 1919); after 1933, at Harvard and Wisconsin universities (USA); after 1945, at the universities of Bonn and Mainz (Federal Republic of Germany). One of the founders of the German Sociological Association.

A representative of so-called formal sociology and a fol-lower of G. Simmel, Wiese believed that the aim of sociology is the study of universal forms of social phenomena. Thus, he rejected the concrete and historical content of social phenomena and put forward his conceptions in opposition to Marxist theory. The so-called sociology of relationships forms the basis of his theory. According to Wiese society is an abstraction. All that exists is the“social,” or“interhuman,” representing a network of relationships between people, with each relationship being the outcome of particular social processes. He constructed a typology of social processes and relationships, proceeding from the concept of social distance, which ranges from the highest degree of association (amalgamation) to the highest degree of dissociation (conflict). Social structures arise on the basis of social processes as the sum total of interhuman relationships. These social structures were classified by Wiese according to their degree of stability (duration) and abstraction as concrete groups (short-lived); abstract groups (long-term), such as the people and the nation; groups in which interrelations are direct, such as the family; and abstract collectives, such as the state and the church, Wiese’s ideas had a definite influence on bourgeois sociology. His conception is criticized, how-ever, for its abstract psychologjsm and formalism.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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