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Notes from Georg Simmel lecture

by: Andrew Edwards

Notes from Georg Simmel lecture SOCL 313

Marketplace > SUNY College at Oneonta > Sociology > SOCL 313 > Notes from Georg Simmel lecture
Andrew Edwards
SUNY College at Oneonta
GPA 3.91
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About this Document

These notes discuss who Georg Simmel is and some of the ideas associated with his work as a sociologist.
Perspectives and Theories in Sociology
Professor Brian M. Lowe
Class Notes
Perspectives and Theories in Sociology




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Andrew Edwards on Tuesday March 29, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOCL 313 at SUNY College at Oneonta taught by Professor Brian M. Lowe in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 31 views. For similar materials see Perspectives and Theories in Sociology in Sociology at SUNY College at Oneonta.

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Date Created: 03/29/16
Sociological Theories and Perspectives:  Georg Simmel and His Ideas By:  Andrew Edwards Who was Simmel?  He was a peer of Durkheim and Weber.  Both Durkheim and Weber praised his work.  Weber tried to get Simmel an academic position, but the Anti­Semitic views held by  Simmel’s potential employers prevented this from happening.  He is not as well­known as Weber or Durkheim, but he still influenced many sociologists. Simmel’s Sociology His sociology has been described by some as a philosophical squirrel since its focus was  spread across a variety of areas. His sociology included his concepts of form, reciprocity, distance, and dualism. What is Simmel’s definition of form?  The world is made up of countless contents that are given fixed identity, structure, and  meaning through the use of forms made by humans during their experiences. How does Simmel define his version of reciprocity?  Nothing has natural or fixed meaning.  Things only have meaning due to interaction with other things or events.  Laws can only be made sense of when compared to other laws.  The connections that legal cases eventually have to other cases is not always  straightforward.  Example:  With military history, certain events are not thought of as turning points until  later on in time after particular things also happen that make those events into turning  points. What is Simmel’s definition of distance?  Aspects of forms and the meanings associated with things are influenced by the relative  distances between people and other individuals or things.  Geographical distance can affect the relations between people but so can social distance.  Social distance is when certain specific rules determine the extent to which people  interact and how close they are to each other when they interact. Other terms and ideas associated with distance  Ethnomethodology:  “Social life is an act that people participate in but people typically  do not realize it.” Specifically, it is the practice of studying how people view the world. Alfred Garfunkel:  He used breach experiments, which involved people breaking certain  rules in order to indicate that they exist. You may not know about the presence of distance until it is violated. You can be near somebody but be distant from them (Example:  Untouchables in India) What is dualism according to Simmel? The world can be best comprehended in terms of conflicts and arrangements between  opposing categories. This concept is akin to binary opposites since analyzing one comprehend the other. Points of reference are required to understand occurrences. What determines who is a stranger?  Dualism, distance, and reciprocity are all considered.  Simmel uses history to claim that the stranger is usually determined by economic  differences.  Dualism is associated with the idea of who is a stranger because a stranger could be close enough to interact with them but far away enough to be called a stranger. What kind of qualities does a stranger have due to dualism? Objectivity:  A stranger is able to make unbiased and clearer observations. Confessional:  People talk to strangers about certain things that they may not discuss with people they are closer to. Abstractness:  The stranger somebody who is not well­known by other people or is a  trader that is not tied to many social identities. How does Simmel believe individuality is created? He believes that distance, reciprocity, and dualism were involved with the development  of the modern individual. Individuality in essence and action is increased based on how much the social circle the  individual is a part of grows. If people interact with a lot of different people, their individuality expressed far more  than it would be if they only interacted with people that were similar to them.


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