Leipzig School

The Leipzig school of sociology was developed by a group of academics at the University of Leipzig, Germany in the 1930s. They were led by Hans Freyer, while other notable members are Helmut Schelsky, Arnold Gehlen,  Gunter Ipsen, Heinz Maus, and Karl Pfeffer.

German philosopher, sociologist, and historian Hans Freyer (1887-1969) taught and later founded the sociology department at the University of Leipzig. Freyer believed that the historical perspective should be the basis of sociology. The difference between history and sociology is that the latter, from historical data, creates descriptions of social structure. Freyer believed that sociology could not formulate general sociological laws, except in two types of cases. The first type refers to phenomena that occur in different societies but within a single course of history. An example is when the characteristics of one industrial company are generalized so that it also applies to other industrial companies. The second type concerns the cyclical repetition of cultural periods, where it is possible to determine the chronological order of cultural periods within one cycle.

He divided historical periods into those that are positive and negative. The positive ones are orderly and harmonious and do not need sociology, while the negative periods, such as civil society in the early 20th century, need sociology for it to exert a positive and constructive influence. The feudal estates' system is an example of a positive period, where there is a functional hierarchy of estates, the highest level of social and moral integration, and the most creative organization of people. A feudal society is a source of high culture. The survival of the feudal society depends on the ability of the ruling caste to use force and prevent rebellions. Since it is built on inequality and domination, the feudal order constantly carries the germ of conflict and revolution. Democratic revolutions created civil society, but also class rule. In civil societies, the possibility of class struggle is constantly present. Freyer also studied the philosophy of culture.

German sociologist Helmut Schelsky (1912-1984) mainly studied German post-war society: institutions, stratification, family, industry, youth, education, unemployment, and sexuality. He was a representative of applied sociology. He believed that the German youth in the 1950s became what he called a "skeptical generation", and this situation was due to the fascist past of the country that the youth wanted to suppress, so this generation was mainly focused on professional and family life.

Authors:  Freyer, Hans; Schelsky, Helmut. Gehlen, Arnold; Ipsen, Gunter; Maus, Heinz; Pfeffer, Karl.


Freyer. Theory of Objective Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture (1991, in German 1923).  


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