Social Structure & Interaction

After defining these terms, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, provide an example of each from your personal or social life.

Geimenschaft describes the extended, personal relationships we have with those we come into contact with (what Cooley refered to as primary groups). The most basic and universal example is the family. The members of a Geimenshaft have a feeling of solidarity and tend to place the whole above their own desires and ambitions (knowing that the whole is looking out for them, and those sacrifices will be more than worth it).

Gemein is the German word for common in English and gemeinschaft, community.

A good example of geimenschaft from my personal life is my Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) group. We get together every Saturday and have a blast playing D&D, eat great food and drink copious amounts of alcohol. D&D is, by its nature, a community-building game. You have to work together in order to solve puzzles and conflicts. When the monsters have been killed, and the dragon's horde is divied up, there is a lot of discussion about who could best use each item rather than who has already recieved the most items. In all of the experiances that I have had, sharing food and drink is one of the quickest ways to develop a strong sense of community. It is not a coincidence that the word communion and community are so simillar (and, let me tell you, you can easily tell the difference between the congregations who share a real meal rather than those who ration out little slivers of tasteless flour and sips of wine/water/grape juice).

Gesellschaft describes an association of people who work together, but don't have any other bond keeping them together. A good example of this concept is the typical relationship between the owner of a business and their employees. Even if you are lucky, and the people you work with all get along, the owner (almost) always has the sucess of the business as the first priority, and if you are not contributing to this sucess, you are forced to leave. This is more pronounced the farther removed the owner (or manager) is from interaction with the workers.

Geselle is a word that means journeyman (a craftsman who has completed the first stage of training in a guild) and Gesellschaft then describes an association of journeymen.

An example of gesellschaft in my own life is my relationship to UCC. I have paid UCC money, and I expect to get a return on that investment. Maybe after I have taken classes here for longer, or if I was on the actual campus, or if I wasn't the one paying for my classes, I would have less of a feeling of disconnection with the school as a whole. The less we are connected with the people involved with an orginization, with society, the less likely it is that we can form little, micro-gemeinshaften: friendships, clubs, gangs, cliches ... in short, community.


just a funny note, when I used Google translate to read the dictionary entry on Gesellschaft it translated the syllablization as: ge - sell - ten - sheep

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