Simmel_Apr13

Simmel_Apr13 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological Theory Georg Simmel Key Points: ± Discuss how Simmel’s analysis of “the stranger” contributes to sociological understanding of social distance, scientific objectivity, and cosmopolitanism. ± What is Simmel’s position on urbanism, and how relevant is it today?
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2 Brief biography of Georg Simmel ± Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1858 ± Studied history and philosophy ± Remained an academic outsider despite his popularity and international fame ± Brilliant rhetorical and dialectical skills ± Prolific writer: over 200 articles and 20 books ± His influence has been diffuse but profound ± Died in 1918 General comments about Simmel ± Often seen as one of the most creative early modern/late classical social theorists. ± A formalist, trying to identify key aspects of social life that were based on formal regularities ² E.g., expansion of group size, difference between dyad and a triad, maximum size of a sustainable group, etc. ± Within this formalism, however, his work covers lots of ground based on ideas, relations, production and so forth. ± This contrasts with approaches that focus on a particular social problem or topic area, or a single method of approach. How is society possible? ± Simmel proposed that sociologists focus on people in relationships. ± Society, for Simmel, was the patterned interactions among members of a group, the sum of responses to ordinary life events. ± Society is merely the name for a number of individuals connected by interactions. ± The major field of study for the student of society is sociation , that is, the particular patterns and forms in which men associate and interact with one another.
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3 THE STRANGER Definition of the “Stranger” ± Both close and far: Physically close but socially distant. ± This is somebody who is “other” to us: not part of our group, but for some reason in our group nonetheless. ± The stranger is a “potential wanderer”. While his position is fixed within a certain spatial circle, his position within it is fundamentally affected by the fact that he does not belong in it initially and that he brings qualities into it that are not, and cannot be, indigenous to it. ± Strangers are mobile and connected to multiple social worlds ² Traders are by definition strangers: to gain access to goods outside, they have to be able to be both here and there. ± According to Simmel, the relation to the stranger is a real
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2012 for the course 920 313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

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Simmel_Apr13 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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