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Ferdinand Tönnies, Community and Society (1887). Preface to the 2nd edition (1912)

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The concepts of social life presented here, though certainly new in their articulation, could not seem downright alien to economics. They had been prepared through the juxtaposition of the natural and monetary economies and of many concepts related to them. The two leading minds of German science, Schmoller and Wagner, discussed the present work at length, from their widely diverging methodological perspectives. Increasingly, rationalism and the rational mechanization of production, indeed, of the “world,” have been recognized as a distinguishing characteristic of the entire modern era and developed in several important works.

Elsewhere, perhaps, I shall speak of the peculiar experiences I made on these occasions. But I may point with satisfaction to the growing attention the work has received over the last twelve years. When Werner Sombart called it “epochal,” Franz Eulenburg a “profound work,” and David Koigen, a Russian sociologist, spoke of the “classic tractate,” these distinctions merely made me all the more aware of the book’s shortcomings; and I wish I had been able to remedy these shortcomings more thoroughly than I have done in this new edition. In any case, these testimonials, in conjunction with the earlier ones, encouraged me to present the book to the world once again. In the process, I have endeavored, without wishing to touch the core and content, to improve many details, even if often only in diction and style; still, no small number of lines have been deleted, and several additions have been made. Such additions, which also contain elements of new ideas, have been identified as “addition 1911” or “addition 1912.” However, anyone with long experience as a writer will readily understand that there is much in the book – which had to be left as it is – which the author would not have written this way today.

While the book was praised by leading writers, it was studiously ignored by others, who honorably (but also dishonorably) passed over it in silence. All the more reason to highlight the special merit Dr. August Batzer has earned on behalf of the work and thus its author through a short monograph (Berlin, 1890), the product of exact knowledge and right understanding. – I also gratefully acknowledge the help that Dr. Marcard and Dr. Gerlach provided in compiling the index.

F. T.

Source: Ferdinand Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundbegriffe der reinen Soziologie [Community and Society: Basic Concepts in Pure Sociology] (1887). Preface to 2nd edition. Berlin, 1912, pp. VI-XVI.

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