Beyond Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Century

  • Henry TamEmail author


This chapter differentiates the forward-looking ideas of Robert Owen and his supporters that gave rise to the term ‘communitarian’ in mid-nineteenth century, from Ferdinand Tönnies’ nostalgic conception of Gemeinschaft (traditional, hierarchical community) that Tönnies pitted against Gesellschaft (self-centred association). It explains how the communitarian form of social togetherness is neither Gemeinschaft nor Gesellschaft, by considering the reorientation of concepts such as social status, religion, nationality, and authority, by de Tocqueville, Feuerbach, Mazzini, and J. S. Mill respectively. The chapter goes on to review the arguments for reforming communities progressively put forward by communitarian advocates in France, Britain and the US, including Durkheim, Bourgeois, Hobhouse, Addams, Dewey, Croly, and Follett; and identify the underlying patterns in rejecting both authoritarian forms of Gemeinschaft and libertarian types of Gesellschaft.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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