In this episode I spoke with Hinnerk Freytag who is a PhD student at the European University Flensburg about the sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies.

See the end of this post for links to the episode.

Tönnies is best known for the concepts Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft which refer to two different kinds of societies each associated with particular kinds of “social bonds”. Central to Tönnies’ analysis is that modernity and urbanisation has loosened the previously strong, familial and communal ties of communities. Modern society is, instead, more individualised and our relationships with others are more anonymous and contractual. While this analysis is quite well known among sociologists much of the rest of his work is less so. We try to put these insights into context of Tönnies other work around public opinion and custom.

Sadly none of Tönnies’ work is freely available however this essay is a good introduction. Also, it is usually possible to pick up cheap second hand copies (from sites such as Abe Books) or if you have access to a good university library you should be able to access his key works discussed on this episode such as Community & Society (Gemeinschaft & Gesselschaft) and Custom.

Below are some links to some of Tönnies’ work in the original German which is open access:

Ferdinand Tönnies (1922): Kritik der öffentlichen Meinung. Berlin: Springer. (ciritique of public opinion)

Ferdinand Tönnies (1912): Thomas Hobbes: der Mann und der Denker. Osterwieck/Harz: Zickfeldt. (Thomas Hobbes: the man and the thinker)

Ferdinand Tönnies (1931): Einführung in die Soziologie. Stuttgart: Enke. (Introduction to Sociology).

Ferdinand Tönnies (1887): Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Abhandlung des Communismus und des Socialiusmus als empirischer Culturformen. Leipzig: Fues. (Community & Civil Society)

Theme music is Wirklich Wichtig by Checkie Brown used on a Creative Commons license

Incidental music is Disco Stomp by Jonas78 used on a Creative Commons license

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