GEMEINSCHAFT AND GESELLSCHAFT
Somewhat similar to the concept of primary and secondary groups are the concepts of Gemeinsclwft and GesellsduJft, develop by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tennies [1887, tr. 1957]. These two terms translate “community” and “society.'” The gemeinschaft is a social system in which most relationships are personal or traditional, and often both. A good. example is· the feudal manor, a small community held together by a combination of personal relationships and. status obligations. Al though great inequality existed, the lord of the manor was personally known to his subjects, while their duties to him were balanced by his obligation for their welfare. When money was used, economic transactions were governed by the concepts of a just price; more often the people involved simply carried out a network of customary obligations to one another. Written documents were scarce formal contracts unknown, bargaining rare, and behavior of all types operated in traditional ways that were known and accepted by all the community. Children had little hope of raising their position in life and equally little fear of falling beneath parental status. Except for occasional feast days. life was monotonous; but loneliness was rare in, a community of lifelong neighbors In the gesellschaft, the society of tradition is replaced with the society G contract. In this society neither personal attachment nor traditional rights and duties are important. The relationships between people are determined by bargaining and defined in written agreements. Relatives are often separated because people move about and live among strangers. Commonly accepted codes of behavior are largely replaced by rationab or “cold-blooded”-calculation of profit and loss.
The gesellschaft flourishes in the modern metropolitan ‘city. Some ‘of the contrasting characteristics of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft relationships are summarized in this comparison
Informal Formal, contractual
Sentimental Realistic, “hard-boiled”
‘Thus in the gemeinschaft, primary-group relationships were dominant, while in the gesellschaft, secondary group retitionship gained in importance.