Custom: An Essay on Social Codes

Overview

In Custom, Ferdinand T?nnies illustrates the relationship of custom to various aspects of culture, such as religion, gender, and family. T?nnies argues that all social norms are evolved from a basic sense of order, which is largely derived from customs. As such, custom refers to the ideal, and the desirable, and it mediates subjective aspects of social life. T?nnies makes observations in Custom that are just as true today as when they were written over a century ago.

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Overview

In Custom, Ferdinand Tönnies illustrates the relationship of custom to various aspects of culture, such as religion, gender, and family. Tönnies argues that all social norms are evolved from a basic sense of order, which is largely derived from customs. As such, custom refers to the ideal, and the desirable, and it mediates subjective aspects of social life. Tönnies makes observations in Custom that are just as true today as when they were written over a century ago.

The pivotal idea in Tönnies work is the observation that custom, like its individual counterpart habit, has three distinct aspects: a fact—an actual way of conduct; a norm—a general rule of conduct; and a will. The analysis, extended into the field of collective behavior, helps to explain how far custom can be regarded as a manifestation of a common will.

Custom is a classic contribution in the grand canon of law and society scholarship. Moreover, the volume introduces several key elements of Tönnies’ work focusing on broader sociological thought, which benefits both the theoretical understanding of law as an object of social science reflection, as well as provides empirical insights into the roles of law in society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Tönnies’ essay on customs is as thought provoking as are most of his writings. The book is difficult to review because Rudolf Heberle has done such a thorough job of reviewing and commenting on the essay in the introduction. . . . For the students of European sociological theory, or for the person interested in sharpening his own theoretical thinking, Custom provides stimulating reading.” —William H. Gulley, Social Forces “Even though it is not one of Tönnies major works, it was well worth translating.” —Arthur K. Davis, Science & Society “The principal relevance of this good translation of a classic theoretical document in sociology for the study of technology and culture is this: it provides an antidote for the excessively behavioristic and consequently deterministic theories of society current in modern American social science.” —John W. Bennett, Technology and Culture “[This] essay is a discussion of the concept of ‘custom,’ roughly the equivalent of ‘mores,’ as understood by Tönnies. To him custom has three different aspects: a factual aspect, that is, an observable way of conduct; a normative aspect, that is, a prescription or proscription of conduct; and, finally, a ‘social will’ rooted in Gemeinschaft.” —Lewis A. Coser, The American Journal of Sociology “As Tönnies states several times in the volume, and as Rudolph Heberle stresses in his helpful introduction, custom has three aspects: first, there is the actual behavior; second, there is the norm that prescribes or proscribes conduct; and third there is the will, the aspect to which Tönnies believes he makes the greatest contribution.” —Charles P. Loomis, American Sociological Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895269904
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/1/1971

Meet the Author

Ferdinand Tönnies (1855–1936) was a German sociologist most famous for studying the distinction between Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society) who also served as a lecturer at the University of Kiel.

Mathieu Deflem is professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina. His writings on law, theory, and culture have appeared in multiple journals and books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition, by Mathieu Deflem Preface, by A. Farrell Borenstein Introduction, by R. Heberle Custom: An Essay on Social Codes, by Ferdinand Tönnies Biographical Notes

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