9.5 The community of society: Some notes on the ubiquity of the notion of community in the theory of society of Niklas Luhmann

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 10:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Mariano SASIN , IIGG-UBA, Argentina
The formula of the distinction between community and society that Tönnies established in Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft in 1887 turned out to be, in many aspects, foundational of one of the most important ways in which sociology explains social reality. By taking different shapes, it acquires centrality in the works of Durkheim, Weber, Simmel, Parsons and the members of the Chicago School of Sociology -among others-, turning the notion of "community" into an essential tool for sociological theory. Apart from this, the semantic malleability of the term has allowed it to take a place of relevance in the broader spectrum of the social sciences. This is why community is not just a sociological concept (if it ever was), but a term of reference, be it descriptive or prescriptive, of general use for social thought.

 However, in these authors, the distinction community/society refers to a historical passage, as much as it refers to certain and diverse modes of interpersonal relations. ¿Which is it, then, the specificity that the term community has? ¿What distinguishes it from the specificity of society? Or, in any case, ¿how is it defined, what place does it take, what role does it play, this concept, idea or notion of community, within the (or any) theory of society? In this paper we will try to answer these questions within the theory of Niklas Luhmann. Our thesis is that, between the general descriptive use that Luhmann makes of the term "community" and the brief references of the autodescriptive distinction commmunity/society, it is possible to retrace a path that has already been travelled  in many directions by sociology.