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Tönnies, Ferdinand (1855–1936)

Ferdinand Tönnies was born in Schleswig, Germany. In 1881, he became a lecturer in sociology at the University of Kiel, where he remained until 1933, when the Nazis ousted him. His most famous book, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (Community and Civil Society), was first published in 1887. Although his written work is extensive, including more than 900 references, most of it has never been translated into English. His interest in sociological research extended to investigating the empirical dimensions of social ills, such as suicide and crime, and inventing his own technique for statistical association.

Tönnies believed that all facts in society and social relationships are products of the human will. According to his theory, there are two forms of human will: the essential will, which is a ...

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