Georg Simmel

Alan Scott

in The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199535231
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Georg Simmel

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Business History



This article has two basic tasks: firstly, to extract from Simmel's sociology those strands of potential significance for the analysis of organizations; and secondly, to locate those elements within, and identify their significance for, his wider analysis. These are potentially conflicting aims. The former treats Simmel as a resource for contemporary analysis; the latter seeks to relocate those arguments in the context of authorial intentions. While the former risks the danger of presentism, the latter can lead to undue deference towards the texts. The article seeks to avoid either extreme. In order to avoid presentism it should be noted in the first place that it was not Simmel's intention to contribute to, or assist the emergence of, the (sub- or trans-)discipline we now call organization studies. Anything in his work of relevance to understanding organizations is the by-product of an analysis with wider, or at least other, aims, namely understanding types of ‘sociation’ (Vergesellschafung).

Keywords: Georg Simmel; presentism; organizational analysis; organization studies; sociation; social circles; cultural theory

Article.  10002 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business History

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