Notes on Georg Simmel
Simmel “a relational (or relationist) sociologist”, and second how fruitful were his . sociology (Das Problem der Sociologie, published in ), Simmel. In spite of these problems, he wrote extensively on the nature of . Simmel was troubled by this relationship, viewing modern society as freeing. "The Geometry of Social Life": An Appreciation of Simmel's Formal Sociology 5 The relationship between geometric and metaphoric distance should be .. Several serious methodological problems with Bogardus's application of his own .
Seeing the Social World. The individual has become a mere cog in an enormous organization of things and powers which tear from his hands all progress, spirituality, and value in order to transform them from their subjective form into the form of a purely objective life.
It needs merely to be pointed out that the metropolis is the genuine arena of this culture which outgrows all personal life. Here in buildings and educational institutions, in the wonders and comforts of space-conquering technology, in the formations of community life, and in the visible institutions of the state, is offered such an overwhelming fullness of crystallized and impersonalized spirit that the personality, so to speak, cannot maintain itself under its impact.
All things float with equal specific gravity in the constantly moving stream of money.
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All things lie on the same level and differ from one another only in the size of the area which they cover. All relationships of people to each other rest, as a matter of course, upon the precondition that they know something about each other.
The merchant knows that his correspondent wants to buy at the lowest price and to sell at the highest price. The teacher knows that he may credit to the pupil a certain quality and quantity of information.
Within each social stratum the individual knows approximately what measure of culture he has to presuppose in each other individual. First lines of the article. Every relationship between two individuals or two groups will be characterized by the ratio of secrecy that is involved in it.
Even when one of the parties does not notice the secret factor, yet the attitude of the concealer, and consequently the whole relationship, will be modified by it.
Georg Simmel - Wikiquote
We cannot say in principle that "error is life and knowledge is death," because a being involved in persistent errors would continually act wide of the purpose, and would thus inevitably perish.
If wandering is the liberation from every given point in space, and thus the conceptional opposite to fixation at such a point, the sociological form of the "stranger" presents the unity, as it were, of these two characteristics. Objectivity does not simply involve passivity and detachment; it is a particular structure composed of distance and nearness, indifference and involvement.
The Stranger is close to us, insofar as we feel between him and ourselves common features of a national, social, occupational, or generally human, nature.
He is far from us, insofar as these common features extend beyond him or us, and connect us only because they connect a great many people. The particular distance from a group allows a person to have objective relationships with different group members. The series was conducted alongside the Dresden cities exhibition of Simmel was originally asked to lecture on the role of intellectual or scholarly life in the big city, but he effectively reversed the topic in order to analyze the effects of the big city on the mind of the individual.
As a result, when the lectures were published as essays in a book, to fill the gap, the series editor himself had to supply an essay on the original topic. The organizers of the exhibition over-emphasized its negative comments about city life, because Simmel also pointed out positive transformations.
During the s the essay was influential on the thinking of Robert E. Park and other American sociologists at the University of Chicago who collectively became known as the "Chicago School".
It gained wider circulation in the s when it was translated into English and published as part of Kurt Wolff's edited collection, The Sociology of Georg Simmel.
It now appears regularly on the reading lists of courses in urban studies and architecture history. In other words, Simmel does not quite say that the big city has an overall negative effect on the mind or the self, even as he suggests that it undergoes permanent changes.
It is perhaps this ambiguity that gave the essay a lasting place in the discourse on the metropolis. The antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man's freedom, his individuality which is connected with the division of labor and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition — but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism.
The Philosophy of Money In this major work, Simmel saw money as a component of life which helped us understand the totality of life. He found that things which were too close were not considered valuable and things which were too far for people to get were also not considered valuable. Considered in determining value was the scarcity, time, sacrifice, and difficulties involved in getting the object. As financial transactions increase, some emphasis shifts to what the individual can do, instead of who the individual is.
Financial matters in addition to emotions are in play. The Stranger is close to us, insofar as we feel between him and ourselves common features of a national, social, occupational, or generally human, nature. He is far from us, insofar as these common features extend beyond him or us, and connect us only because they connect a great many people.
In a society there must be a stranger.
Georg Simmel - Wikipedia
If everyone is known then there is no person that is able to bring something new to everybody. The stranger bears a certain objectivity that makes him a valuable member to the individual and society. People let down their inhibitions around him and confess openly without any fear.
This is because there is a belief that the Stranger is not connected to anyone significant and therefore does not pose a threat to the confessor's life. For example, especially in pre-modern societies, most strangers made a living from trade, which was often viewed as an unpleasant activity by "native" members of those societies.
In some societies, they were also employed as arbitrators and judges, because they were expected to treat rival factions in society with an impartial attitude.
Their sole objective, in fact, was to find an even more objective, trans-spatial metric: That the authors could go so far toward a spatial understanding, and still avoid the point, presents such a monumental case of obtuseness, that we are confronted with the extreme to which the modernist discourse of social science had abolished geometric distance from their conceptions of social being see Soja The authors even begin their article by stating, correctly: In Samuel Stouffer pointed out that 'distance is such an important factor that it needs more explicit study than it has received.
They then ignore their own advice. By the mids, Frank R. Westie and Margaret L. Westie had subjected the Bogardus Scale to rigorous sociometric revision. Their revised instrument was a plus item questionnaire that actually contained four separate social distance scales 10for which they reported a test-retest reliability coefficient of.
In other words, race prejudice was greatly modified by a factor of up to 2 times by socioeconomic status. In his methodological writings on social distance,Frank R.
For example, while devising indicators of aversion to social closeness, Westie and coworkers tested the following question: Westie's careful probing of the Bogardus method revealed a bedrock aspect of the metaphor of distance: Most of the geometric distances in the Bogardus Scale were not in fact matters of choice.
Regarding Bogardus Score item 1, marriage between whites and nonwhites was in fact illegal in most states of the U. Anti-miscegenation laws, in fact, were not invalidated by the U.
Supreme Court until in the well-named case Loving v. Considering the Bogardus Score pertaining to residential proximity 3 in ; 4 and 6 inracially restrictive covenants in residential property deeds were the norm in the United States until the U.
Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in Shelly v.
Apartheid laws force all members of a nation-state to observe the social taboos on which those laws were originally based. In the American South, C. Vann Woodward demonstrated long ago, racial mixing geometric proximity in public places such as parks was quite common until the introduction of Jim Crow laws in the s. Outside of the South, the introduction of racially restrictive covenants did not begin until the s, during a period of massive mobilization of racial hatred, which included the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and the enactment of the restrictive immigration laws of and That research agenda lies outside this brief paper.
I want to conclude, however, with some brief comment on the status of social distance measures in contemporary sociology. The Return of the Stranger: Suggestions for the Recovery of Simmelian Social Geometry.