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Difference Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

Gemeinschaft vs Gesellschaft

Gemeinschaft and gesellschaft are both sociological theories developed by German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies describing two normal types of human association. Gemeinschaft is a social association in which the individuals are inclined towards social community rather than their individual wants and needs. Gesellschaft is a civil society in which the individual needs are given more importance than the social association.

“Gemeinschaft” is a German word which is translated as “community” and mainly emphasizes common mores wherein the individuals believe in appropriate behavior and responsibility of each other to the association instead of focusing on individual interests and needs. Ferdinand Tonnies believed that family was the perfect epitome of gemeinschaft. On the other hand, gesellschaft translated as “society” mainly focuses on individual interests rather than large association. There is no shared mores concept involved in this type of association as the large association is not given prime importance. The individuals of the society act according to their own interests. Modern businesses, managers, workers, and owners are a good example of a gesellschaft association.

In a gemeinschaft association, the status is obtained by associated ownership/authorship i.e., by birth. In a gesellschaft association, the status is obtained through achievement i.e., through education and work.

Gemeinschaft emphasizes community ties in which personal relationships and families are given more importance. In contrast, gesellschaft emphasizes more on secondary relationships instead of families and personal relationships. Gesellschaft is characterized by a more elaborate division of labor. Gemeinschaft typically derives from a moderate division of labor.

Gemeinschaft is identified by small, localized societies as opposed to gesellschaft which is characterized by complex, impersonal societies. The communities in the gemeinschaft theory have strong social bonds, shared values, and benefits. In gesellschaft communities, social ties are impersonal, instrumental, and narrow.

Talcott Parsons, a renowned American sociologist, further expanded the two theories by introducing five dichotomies also known as pattern variables based on social interaction. He described gemeinschaft as a collective orientation and gesellschaft as self-orientation with his pattern variable value alternatives.

The gemeinschaft association occurs in small cities where the individuals focus more on the social community interests than their own self interests. The idea is to focus on the “will of all” rather than self interest. The group values and norms regulate the gemeinschaft community. Gesellschaft can be seen in very large cities where individuals are self-centric. The gesellschaft society doesn’t believe in social ties and group values as individual needs are given more importance than anything else. Fernand Toonies believed that most of the associations exhibit both gemeinschaft and gesellschaft characteristics.

Summary:

1. Gemeinshaft association focuses on social bonds whereas gesellschaft association

focuses on secondary relationships.

2. In a gemeinschaft association, the status is obtained by birth whereas in gesellschaft

the status is obtained by work and education.

3. Gemeinschaft can be seen in small cities whereas gesellschaft can be seen in large

cities. Gemeinschaft emphasizes group values and norms whereas gesellschaft

focuses on individual needs and interests.

4. Gemeinschaft associations can be seen in families whereas managers, businessmen,

workers form a good example of gesellschaft associations.

5. Gemeinschaft is described as collective orientation whereas gesellschaft is described

as self-orientation.


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