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Ferdinand Toennies's Gemeinschaft - Essay Example

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Ferdinand Toennies, was not pleased with what he viewed as the future of the individual and the community. (Kirvisto 89). Gesellschaft, which is German for association would be characterized as a large city. Within that, city life is a mechanical aggregate characterized by disunity, rampant individualism and selfishness, meaning of existence shifts from group to individual, rational, calculating, each person understood in terms of a particular role and service provided; deals with the artificial construction of an aggregate of human beings which superficially resembles the Gemeinschaft in so far as the individuals peacefully live together yet whereas in Gemeinschaft people are united in spi…
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Question Ferdinand Toennies, was not pleased with what he viewed as the future of the individual and the community. (Kirvisto 89). Gesellschaft, which is German for association would be characterized as a large city. Within that, city life is a mechanical aggregate characterized by disunity, rampant individualism and selfishness, meaning of existence shifts from group to individual, rational, calculating, each person understood in terms of a particular role and service provided; deals with the artificial construction of an aggregate of human beings which superficially resembles the Gemeinschaft in so far as the individuals peacefully live together yet whereas in Gemeinschaft people are united in spite of all separating factors, in Gesellschaft people are separated in spite of all uniting factors. It was the Gesellschaft that Toenneis disliked and the Gemienschaft which he saw as becoming nonexistent. (Kirvisto 89).
This question asks us to consider an example of Gesellschaft within the context of an organization. There are several that I can envision on the corporate front such as security exchanges and the like, but I think that the best example of Gesellschaft is the city of New York. New York City is an organization in that it is a municipality. Thus while governmentally organized, it is a Gesellschaft as proposed by Toennies. (Kirvisto 89). New York City is a large, urban society, in which social bonds are based on impersonal and specialized relationships, with little long-term commitment to the group or consensus on values. Relationships are based on achieved statuses, and interactions among people are both rational and calculated. This is evidenced by the interactions of brokers on Wall Street, the advertising industry and even the penal system. He who makes the highest dollar attains the highest status. This is precisely what Toennies predicted would happen which is why his preference was towards the Gemeinschaft. (Kristovo 89). In Gesellschaft societies, prevailing core values are based on the belief that people should be able to take care of themselves. As a result of this belief, many people view the homeless as "throwaways"-that they are beyond help or society already has done enough for them. (Kendall 94)
Alternative explanations for homelessness might include structural poverty; a steady, across-the-board lowering of the standard of living of the working class and lower class; substandard wages for many jobs; and a lack of employment opportunities, however these are not possibilities that would be embraced by in Gesellschaft. (Kendall 94). Toennies notes: "Gesellschaft means life in the public sphere, in the outside world. In Gemeinschaft we are united from the moment of our birth with our own folk for better or worse. We go out into Gesellschaft as if into a foreign land. (Kendall 94) A young man is warned about mixing with bad society: but 'bad community' makes no sense in our language.
Question 2
This question asks me to explore whether I agree with Toennies. Simply stated, the answer is yes. Notably, New York is a democratic state. However, there is still the stigma which attaches to the homeless and disenfranchised notwithstanding the funding that New York state senators consistently obtain. Moreover, there is a complete lack of advocacy for the disenfranchised in legal matters, mental assistance and drug and alcohol recovery programs.
Resources
Kendall, Diana Sociology In Our Times, Third Canadian Edition University of Winnipeg Chapter 5, 2004.
Ferdinand Tonnies (1887). Community and Civil Society. Reprinted and translated by Jose Harris. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 18 Read More
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