Born in Berlin, Germany. Pioneer of studying urban life. He was Jewish. His last thesis was about music.
He became a lecturer, and his students became famous 20 century academics. He wrote many issues
about modern art. He even wrote a book called SOCIOLOGY. He seemed to not be interested in politics
that much. He really supported Germany during WWI.
Sociology as a study of form
Nomothetic vs. Idiography
Nomothetic – Science tells the way things are. Follows general laws.
Idiography – Human life and nature are different because you cannot formulate general laws.
Association pg 3.
Society exists when a number of people go through association.
Interacting with others is a sociological phenomenon.
Simmel wanted to examine this.
Symbolic interactions arise for our purposes and impulses (psychological).
Association creates some kind of unity.
This unity is only there when there is a person with things that benefit you or affects you.
Being social is a matter of degree.
Extent and intensity of association vary.
There is a form and the content.
Context – whatever you are at the present moment. All of these can exist in a non-interaction form.
What is a form of SI?
A form of being with and for another
Context – There can be conflict in love
Form – Conflict is a form that can be viewed in different contexts.
Same form – love, conflict, work
Same content, different forms.
Tasks for Sociology
Identity the pure forms of association
Order the forms
Examine their development
Explain the forms psychologicallyQuantitative aspects of group life
The best way of looking at forms is looking at number of people interacting.
1) Dyadic – Two person interaction. There are universal definable properties:
a. Each person has to deal with just one other person
b. The conversation depends on both of you actively taking part
c. There is no one else to put blame on
2) Triads – Three person interaction
a. Possibility of factions (one influencing the other)
b. Group can feel like it’s dominating the individual
c. Mediation – third person can mediate the tension between the other two
d. Tertus Gaudens – The third person can divide and conquer
3) Large groups
a. There are formal rules
b. There s more likely to e distance between individuals
c. People are less individual and only one segment of personality is utilized
d. Large group can be liberating (no direct scrutiny)
1) Under a single individual
a. The subordinates will usually become more unified
b. Internal – There is a common belief and they think that their leader embodies it
c. External – There s unified hate towards the leader
2) Under a plurality
a. The SUPERordinates are less subjective and stringently follow rules
b. The SUBordinates should not expect special favours
c. Plural leaders are much more violent
3) Under a principal
a. In the West, this is the rule of law
b. Much more impersonal
c. People gain liberation from subordination under one person
-First to say conflict has a positive characterization
Simmel says you are connected with someone a lot if you are in conflict with them. He says conflict is a
way of connection not necessarily for disassociation.
Conflict vs. Social integrationSimmel’s ideal of an integrated society is not necessarily a harmonious one. It is the tensions and
rivalries that keep people together.
In economies, competition in forms, and cooperation makes them successful. To Simmel, a marriage
that has a lot of conflict is not dysfunctional, but a sign of a strong marriage because they are open to
Two levels of unity and integration into any group:
Unity in harmony where conflict is opposite
The presence of unity and conflict
*Temporal dimension of conflict
A conflict is different between friends than it is between enemies.
If you get into a conflict with a past friend it will be brutal.
If it is a conflict with someone you disagree with, you accept it more.
Conflict for itself
UFC and boxing – the whole relationship is fighting (main purpose)
A kind of interacting with people for the sake of interacting. Just for the pleasure of giving and taking.
The most basic example is a party:
You are not supposed to talk about anything serious.
Sociability is the purest form of sociology.
1) it is autonomous: should be independent of extraneous purpose
2) high level of artifice: they are artificial
3) Playful interaction: transform important topics into games. War = Chess, Capitalism = Monopoly
4) Provides distance from everyday life: They are an almost sacred space. They can reveal to you the
secrets of life.
Parties are very much works of art. Tells us about things without the consequences.
A certain set of character traits typical of a person who takes on specific positions in a form of
All people who take on these positions have the same qualitie