Sociological Theory: Present-Day Sociology from the Past

By Edgar F. Borgatta; Henry J. Meyer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6 The Form of the Group:
Size and Character

THE NUMBER OF PERSONS AS DETERMINING
THE FORM OF THE GROUP

B Y GEORG SIMMEL

IN respect to the fundamental problem which appears to me solely to form the basis of a sociology as a distinct science, I indicate here merely that this problem rests upon the distinction between the content or purpose of socializations, and the form of the same. The content is economic or religious, domestic or political, intellectual or volitional, pedagogic or convivial. That these purposes and interests, however, attain to realization in the form of a society, of the companionship and the reciprocity of individuals, is the subject-matter of special scientific consideration. That men build a society means that they live for the attainment of those purposes in definitely formed interactions. If there is to be a science of society as such, it must therefore abstract those forms from the complex phenomena of societary life, and it must make them the subject of determination and explanation. Those contents are already treated by special sciences, historical and systematic; the relationships, however, of men to each other, which in the case of the most diverse purposes may be the same, and in the

____________________
Abridged from: Simmel Georg, The Number of Members as Determining the Sociological Form of the Group (translated by Albion W. Small), American Journal of Sociology, 1902, 8, 1-46 and 158-196. Reprinted by permission of the University of Chicago Press.

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