Re examining the sociological theory of gesellschaft, one must remember that conceptually Tonnies defined gesellschaft society as characterized by formal institutions bound by impersonal relationships. Specifically, the boundaries of gesellschaft become clear when examining how a community reacts to this impersonal relationship. In other words, one must ask to what degree are people willing to sacrifice the affectionate familial relationships of gemeinschaft for the greater good found in gesellschaft.
Gemeinschaft Gemeinschaft, asl touched on above was that collegial feeling of- community characterized by a common identity, personal relationships, and a strong identification with tradition al sentiments. The true irony was that schools foster gemeinschaft for the purpose of building up gesellschaft. Let me explain using a simple metaphor: on the first day of kindergarten in the lobby of any school one is likely to see weeping and wailing and nervous parents and equally anxious youngsters parting from one another.
The process of breaking the bonds of gemeinschaft for the good of gesellschaft can be a painful one. But if the school has done a good job of building trust and a sense of community with the parents, they will be far more willing to sacrifice those bonds for a greater societal goodeducation. Just as defining-rural proved difficult, defining both-community and—society were equally nebulous. These often used, but poorly defined abstract nouns, are just like other intangible nouns the exact definition depended upon the user. Often community was defined in terms of a location, a town, or a neighborhood.
Sociological theory had traditionally defined community as a somewhat fluid organization. It could change and morph as individuals moved in or out. However, the definition of community varied depending upon the sociologist doing the defining. Maciver (1920) offered a compelling definition of community: A community is a focus of social life, the common living of social beings (p. 24). Other notable sociologists felt that community was far more than just the collection of human beings. They saw an association, a relationship, or connection.
Durkheim (1920) clarified community as social attachments based upon a common system of beliefs and social practices that link individuals to a social structure (Morrison, 2006, pp. 161 162). Furthermore, he held that religious and family associations have the most intense relations (Morrison,2006, p. 177). Sociologist Clifford Cobb(1992) wrote, In a community, people take responsibility for collective activity and are loyal to each other beyond self interest. 17 They work together on the basis of shared values. They hold each other accountable for commitments(p. ).
In his research he insisted that schools must be viewed as communities rather than as bureaucratic elements of society. Highly effective schools, he maintained, were built upon personal relationships; they were a community based on their shared vision (p. 23). Another sociologist, Sergiovanni, also went on record calling for schools to view themselves as communities rather than organizations that fall into the realm of society. When viewed as a community, the school built a kinship. Cooperation, trust, intimacy, and responsibility grew as a result (1994).
By sociological definition, society did not retain the same fluid like qualities community did. No matter who might move into or out of a society, it would largely stay the same. Offices and systems were put in place to ensure its stable nature despite its members. For example, even though a school community might be devastated by the death of a teacher, the school’s society need only to replace him or her for the wheels of the school system to continue to turn. Garfinkel (1967) defined society in terms of the rules that governed daily life, including shared background knowledge and social structures (ch. 2).
In Reconstruction in Philosophy(1920), John Dewey gave this definition of society: -Society is the process of associating in such ways that experiences, ideas, emotions, and values are transmitted and made commonll (p. 207). Emile Durkheim argued that society was not the sum of its individual members, but a reality in itself based on the general will (Hughes, Sharrock, & Martin, 2003,pp. 146-149). From Marx’s theories of society as little more than work and production to Freud’s belief t society 18 came together as religion and morals converge with the oedipal complex, clearly, society was a multifaceted concept.
The study of community and society as social phenomena was obviously not new. Tonnies (1957) developed theories in which he explored the concepts of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft (first published in 1887 and most recently posthumously in 2001). —Communityll (gemeinschaft) as a sociological concept, was characterized by a common identity, personal relationships, and a strong identification with traditional sentiments. -Society||(gesellschaft), on the other hand, was characterized by formal institutions defined by impersonal relationships.
Using Tonnies’s premise as a theoretical setting, this study examined the norms of a single community in terms of both gemeinschaft and gesellschaft. In other words, I made sense of the relationships among the residents of the community and the employees and students who were part of the school, and also the relationships among institutions that would include the school, city and state government, and organizations such as the state department of education, and federal education offices and institutions. Expanding Gesellschaft a