Georg Simmel's Major Contributions to Sociology

George Simmel is one of the Micro-sociologists that played a substantial part in developing small group research. Many have described his approach as methodological relations since he argues on the point of view that everything interrelates with something else in one way or the other. For example, his essay on fashion looks at fashion as a way of social affiliation, which allows those individuals that wish to conform to it, to do so as they offer the norm from which distinctive people can deviate. People are often under the influence of the objective culture and the individual culture. The objective culture is the things that individuals make whereas the individual culture involves the capacity of people to absorb, produce, and control aspects of the objective culture. Simmel believed that individual have a certain level of creative capacity, which facilitated the production of objective culture, which transcends them. However, he recognizes the fact that objective culture stands in an incompatible opposition to the resourceful forces produced by individuals in the first instance.

Simmel’s interest in pursuing studies in creativity shows itself in his argument of the diverse nature of social interaction, the disastrous effects that social structures have of the creative nature of individuals and the capability of individuals to create social structures. A look at all the discussion of Simmel about interaction indicates that all individuals in the interaction process must have a conscious orientation towards one another. In addition, he has a conception of individuals’ ability to confront them mentally, to distance themselves from their actions, a view that they share with another sociologist, George Herbert

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Many individuals in the sociology field remember Simmel for his contribution towards the understanding of forms and patterns of social interaction. One of his central concerns was the form of social interaction, and not the content of the interaction as many would have expected. According to Simmel, it is the task of a sociologist to impose a limit on the number of forms of social reality. In line with these arguments, Simmel makes efforts to develop geometry of social relations. He specifies the crucial disparity between the two-person group and the three-person group. The three-person group poses a greater risk to the aspect of individuality than that of the two-person group. He continues to argue that, in the case of a larger community, individualism have a high affinity of involving themselves with many groups, each of which has a small level of control on the individual's personality. According to Simmel, distance is another key factor that plays a leading role in the social interaction of an individual. He gives an example of the value of an object and how it is a factor of the distance from the individual.

Simmel uses the objective culture to explain the concept of historical and philosophical sociology. According to Simmel, individuals always produce culture. However, due to the inability of individuals to reify the social reality, the cultural and social world ends up dominating the actors who were inspirational in crating the cultures. Some of the elements of objective culture include technology, language, moral codes, and ideals of society. The actual size of objective culture amplifies with an increase in the level of modernization.

Philosophy of Money

In this philosophy, Simmel assesses the impact that money has on the economy, in terms of the inner world of actors and the whole objective culture. According to Him, money directly relates with social phenomena such as ownership, exchange, extravagance, individual freedom, and greed. He believes that individuals create value through creating objects, distancing themselves from the created objects and looking for avenues of overcoming the distances, difficulties, and obstacles. According to Simmel, money acts as a tool of distancing oneself from the created objects, and acts as a tool of overcoming the created distance, as well. Simmel recognizes the vitality of the individual declining when the money transactions increased in their importance. Any society in where money tends to be an end in itself can lead to individual becoming increasingly cynical.

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Objective Culture

With an increasing level of division of labor in the modern world, there is an improved potential and ability to create new objects of the cultural world. However, simultaneously, the highly dedicated person has a high affinity to losing a track of the total culture and ability to control the culture. The growth in objective culture leads to a subsequent atrophy in the culture. A sudden and dramatic increase in the level of objective culture leads to a subsequent negative effect in the rhythm of life of an individual.

Simmel’s Work on Secrecy

He Simmel recognizes secrecy as a condition where an individual hides something intentionally; whereas, another individual is seeking to obtain the hidden information he makes an analysis of the various social relationship forms from a secrecy point of view. He believes that confidence is an intermediary stage between ignorance and knowledge of a person. All friendships are not based on total intimacy, but rather, on a given level of intimacy based on religion, intellectual pursuits, and shared experiences.

Most of Simmel’s work is relevant in today’s society. This is because most of his findings such as the objective culture, discuss the impact of innovations on the culture of individuals. However, he has received a remarkable level of criticism on the fragmentary nature of his works. His work does not indicate a systematic sociological approach that is as par with other sociologists such as Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. Despite this criticism, Simmel’s contribution remains to have a substantial relevance in the modern society.

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