Leopold Wiese

Leopold Wiese

German sociologist
Date of Birth: 02.12.1876
Country: Germany

  1. Contributions to Sociology
  2. Theories on Social Structures

Leopold von Wiese: German Sociologist and a Representative of Formal Sociology

Leopold von Wiese was a German sociologist and a prominent figure in the field of formal sociology. He was one of the founding members of the German Sociological Society. From 1908 to 1911, he held a professorship in Hannover before relocating to Cologne in 1919. After 1933, he emigrated to the United States where he worked at Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin. In 1945, he moved to West Germany and continued his teaching and research activities at the universities of Bonn and Mainz.

Contributions to Sociology

In his works, von Wiese was recognized as a proponent of formal sociology, which was influenced by the works of Georg Simmel. He believed that the goal of sociology was to study the universal forms of social phenomena. In contrast to Karl Marx's theory, von Wiese did not focus on the historical content of social phenomena. Instead, he emphasized the importance of social relationships.

According to von Wiese, society itself is merely an abstraction, and what truly exists is the "social" or the complex network of relationships between individuals. He argued that the relationships between specific individuals were the result of certain social processes.

Theories on Social Structures

Von Wiese based his theory on the sociology of relationships, considering the concept of social distance. He developed his views on the typology of social processes and relationships, which form the basis for various social structures. He classified these structures based on their duration and abstractness. This classification included concrete and short-lived groups, abstract and long-lasting groups such as nations, and groups with direct relationships like families. He also included abstract collectives like the state and the church.

Von Wiese's ideas had a significant impact on the sociology of the bourgeoisie, although they were also subject to criticism. His contributions expanded the understanding of social phenomena and the complexities of social relationships.