Who Owes and What Simmel?

Georg Simmel’s influence on several succeeding generations of scholars was great indeed, even if it cannot be compared to that of Max Weber’s. Th is, however, was not always to characterize the historians, who made an attempt (in the first half of the 20th century) to construct a unified historical sociology. An eminent example for this could be István Hajnal, who neglected Simmel’s entire sociological oeuvre in his elaboration of a theoretical framework eligible for doing historical sociology. The more recent Anglo-Saxon theoretical discourse on modernity also tends to lack to appreciate Simmel’s magisterial contribution to the theoretical underpinnings of modern urbanity. The examples mentioned in this context may include Richard Sennett and Marshall Berman. However, the practitioners of social urban history holding an expertise especially in the history of the modern metropolis are fully aware of Simmel’s great importance in conceptualizing the modern city. Accordingly, due attention has usually been paid to him in the field both in the Anglo-Saxon and the (continental) European scholarly community. The main reference in that regard has been the concept of the stranger, a notion elaborated by Simmel as being a good indicative of the emergence of a modern socio-psichological urban setting, one that was further refined by Walter Benjamin by introducing the notion of the fl âneur some time later.

Released: Replika 112, 113–119.