georg simmel

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Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel1Just as the universe needs love and hate, that is, attractive and repulsive forces, in order to have any form at all, so society, too, in order to attain a determinate shape, needs some quantitative ratio of harmony and disharmony, of association and competition, of favorable and unfavorable tendencies. (G. Simmel, Conflict)Georg Simmel (1858-1918)2Born in 1858 in Berlin, son of successful businessman who died when GS was an infantHistorical context: cosmopolitan BerlinGS was the quintessential Berlin intellectual, at center of intellectual circles, caf cultureMarginalized in academia, due to eclectic nature of work and anti-semitism of German university establishment

Intellectual influences & core ideas3Simmels work challenged 2 currents of European thought:

Historicism emphasizes fundamental differences b/w natural and social worldsnatural sciences seen as the proper domain of objectivity whereas social sciences, if science at all, require interpretive methods, subjectivityOrganicism sees natural & social realities as continuous and models social processes on biological onesemploys organic metaphors, sees world as one chain of being from simple, natural phenomena to the most complex social patternsarchetypal figures: Durkheim, Spencer, Comte

Simmel rejected historicism b/c it precluded scientific and generalizing approach to social life and rejected organicism for its reification of social facts, its vision of life as a thing

Society4According to Simmel,Society is merely the name for number of individuals connected by interaction.It is not a substance, nothing concrete, but an event: It is the function of receiving and affecting the fate and development of one individual by another

In short society is the array of interactions engaged in by individuals4The individual in modern society5Society and the individuals that compose it constitute an interdependent duality, the existence of one presupposing the otherduality: being twofold; dichotomy; a classification into two opposed parts or subclassesSociety Sociation6Simmel prefers the term sociation over societySociety is a reification, sociation is notSociation emphasizes relation and processInsofar as we speak of society, we do so only in shorthand

Sociology7Sociologys goal is description and analysis of particular forms of interaction and their crystallization in group characteristicsProper subject matter for sociology is the formal aspects of social life, not the particular contentContent refers to the drives, purposes, interests, or inclinations that individuals have for interacting with one anotherSuch motivations, in themselves, are not social but rather are isolated psychological or biological impulsesActions in concert with others to fulfill drives or realize interests are social a geometry of social life: specifying regularities in diverse contentEmphasizes social interaction at the individual & small group levelMicrosociology of Simmel much different from grand theory of the classical writers, especially Marx and Durkheim7Sociology: against reification8Reification means thingification, making something that is a process or a concept, something abstract, into a thing, e.g.Relationship: when two people become romantically involved, they have a relationship, it becomes a thing, tangible force but really its a process of relatingOrganization: we treat it as a thing rather than a process, a set of relations among peopleCategories like class, race, nationality, gender, etc.

gender is more tricky b/c there seems to be some kind of biological component, so there might be some thingness, some essence, to gender8Quantitative features of social life9GS divides the social world into 3 basic forms: Solitary individual Dyad (two persons)each individual can present themselves to the other in a way that maintains their identityeither party can end the relationship by withdrawing from itTriad (3 or more people)enables strategies that lead to competition, alliances, or mediationoften develops a group structure independent of the individuals in it, whereas this is less likely in the dyad

Sociability (1910)10sociability: the play-form of association, driven by, "amicability, breeding, cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds" interacting with others for the sake of the connection itself Sociable conversations have no significance or ulterior motive, talking is an end in itselffor pure pleasure of associationnot that all serious topics must be avoided, but point is that sociability finds its justification, its place, and its purpose only in the functional play of conversation as suchResolving the solitariness of the individual11Every play or artistic activity has a common element: a feeling for, or a satisfaction in associating with others, resolving the solitariness of the individual into togetherness, union with othersDepends on good form, interaction of the elements through which a unity is madeSince sociability in its pure form has no ulterior end, no content, and no result outside itself, it is oriented completely about personalities. (297)But personalities must not emphasize themselves too individuallyor with too much abandon and aggressivenessThe superficial nature of sociability12To the extent that its a form of interaction free of the tensions of real life, sociability establishes an artificial world, a world without friction or conflictInasmuch as sociability is the abstraction of association an abstraction of the character of art or of play it demands the purest, most engaging kind of interaction that among equals.It is game in which one acts as though all were equal. (294)

Coquetry 13Coquetry or flirtation: a kind of sociability or erotic play in which an actor continuously alternates between denial and consentIdea is to lead the other on without letting matters come to a decision, to rebuff him without making him lose all hope Coquetry is the teasing or even ironic play with which eroticism has distilled the pure essence of its interaction out from its substantive or individual contentIts not individual behavior, its interaction