Weber & Toennies: Comparative Sociology in Historical Perspective

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This collection of selected essays by Werner J. Cahnman brings together out of scattered dispersion his writings about Max Weber, Ferdinand Toennies, and historical sociology. The great theoretical range and depth of his intellect and mastery of sociological thinking is apparent as he discusses the impact of romanticism on modern thought, and how Weber and Toennies both analyzed and reacted to modernity. Cahnman places Weber (1864-1920), the dominant figure in twentieth-century sociology, in the midst of the methodological controversies so characteristic of contemporary social science, and he fully discusses the overarching importance of Weberian ideal-type theory. Although less well-known than Weber, Toennies (1855-1936) was also a sociologist of the first rank. He is best remembered for his enormously influential twin concepts, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, which contributed to our understanding of the historical and sociological basis for the change from premodern to modern societies. The essays in this volume establish Toennies' intellectual connections to Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Herbert Spencer, and clarify his influence upon American sociology. Cahnman stood against strict separations between history and sociology, and his essays are all informed by a wonderful admixture of the theoretical and the concrete. They demonstrate how a genuine historical sociology, not unlike that of Weber and Toennies, can find and explain linkages between seemingly disparate events spanning time and place. This volume will be of interest to sociologists, political scientists, and intellectual historians.