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Schelsky, Helmut (1912–1984)

Helmut Schelsky, born into a lower-middle-class family in Chemnitz, near the border of the current Czech Republic, joined the Nazi Party in the thirties. A pupil of Hans Freyer (1887–1969) and Arnold Gehlen (1904–1976) at Leipzig University's Faculty of Philosophy, Schelsky wrote his doctoral thesis on Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) in 1939. Although awarded a chair in sociology in 1943, he was prevented from teaching by the war, and it was only in 1949 that he took up posts at the universities of Hamburg, Münster, and Bielefeld.

In the 1950s, together with Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) and René König (1906–1992), Schelsky helped reinstate sociology in Germany. In the 1960s, he headed the Dortmund social research center, one of the largest in Europe. Here, he discovered Niklas Luhmann (1927–1998), ...

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