Community and Civil Society

Ferdinand Tönnies’ Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (first published in 1887) is a classic of social and political theory, which explores the clash between small-scale neighbourhood-based ‘communities’ and large-scale competitive market ‘societies’. Tönnies considers all aspects of life - political, economic, legal and family; art, religion and culture; the construction of ‘selfhood’ and ‘personhood’; and modes of cognition, language and understanding. Often recognised as one of the founding texts of sociology, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft is also a highly significant contribution to European political thought and philosophy, with particular relevance to the legacies of Hobbes and Kant. It is at once a response to modernity, a theoretical exercise in social, political and moral science, and an unusual commentary on the inner character of ‘democratic socialism’. This new English rendition will introduce Tönnies’ work to a fresh generation of English-speaking readers with interests in social and political theory and the history of European ideas.

• New, more readable translation • Relates Tönnies to the history of philosophy, political thought, science and law, rather than to later developments in sociology • Introduction explains ideas and provenance of a writer often regarded as impossibly difficult


General introduction; Chronology of Tönnies’ life and career; Community and Civil Society; Tönnies’ Preface to the first edition of 1887; 1.1. A general classification of key ideas; 1.2. Theory of Gesellschaft; 2.1. The forms of human will; 2.2. Explanation of the dichotomy; 3.1. The sociological basis of natural law; 3.2. Definitions and propositions; 3.3. The natural element in law; Conclusions and future prospects.


\' … the translators have here done an excellent job of translation from nineteenth-century German to twenty-first century English.\' German History