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Sociology: Events


Weber / Simmel antagonisms, Staged dialogues

Weber / Simmel antagonisms, Staged dialogues
Hosted by: Sociology # University of Edinburgh; Hosted by: The British Sociological Association # BSA
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
10th Dec 2015 13:30 - 11th Dec 2015 19:00
University of Edinburgh

The conference, organized by the Max Weber Group of the British Sociological Association & Edinburgh Sociology, staged imagined dialogues between Max Weber and Georg Simmel, written and performed by pairs of academics. The videos of the dialogues appear below, together with the references of the texts used as a basis for each of them. A special issue of the Journal of Classical Sociology (May 2017) is featuring a revised version of some of these dialogues.


opening slide

Much has been said about the strong oppositions between Simmel and Weber as founding fathers of sociology – as well as about their shared concerns. Capitalism and culture, ‘worlds’ and their tensions, rationalization and objectivation, the city, music, the methodology of the social sciences and ideal types, equally exercised their thought and yielded very different creatures.

But rather than merely intellectual or methodological quarrels, the antagonisms between Simmel and Weber engaged their whole way of being and acting in the world – the constantly renewed aspiration yet impossibility of reconciliation with oneself and the world, for Simmel; agonic tension, struggle with oneself and the world, for Weber. This is perhaps the reason why Weber/Simmel antagonisms have had continuity in social theory and shaped some of its major currents of thought. More importantly perhaps they spur us to be and act in the world in very different ways: hence this conference, which did not only explore these differences, but staged them.

Stance, conflict and personality

Philosophical/Political stance: Olli Pyyhtinen, University of Tampere (Simmel) and Carlos Frade , University of Salford (Weber)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

The corrosion of character:  Gregor Fitzi, University of Bielefeld (Weber) and Vincenzo Mele, University of Pisa (Simmel)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

Conflict, in 4 epochs: Austin Harrington, University of Leeds (Weber) and Thomas Kemple, University of British Columbia (Simmel).

No video for this dialogue, but the piece has been published in the journal Sociologie et Societes, which has gracefully authorised free access to the article from our page. The article can be found here.


The sociologists game: On Doing and Writing Sociology. Barbara Thériault, University of Montreal (Simmel) and Rosalie Dion, Collège Bois-de-Boulogne, Montreal (Weber)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

The sociological significance of picture frames: John Parker, University of Swansea (Simmel) & Hilary Stanworth, University of Swansea (Weber)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

Money, capitalism and the law

Money: Nigel Dodd, London School of Economics (Simmel) and Geoff Ingham, University of Cambridge (Weber)

Reification: Arthur Bueno, Max Weber Kolleg, University of Erfurt (Simmel) and Mariana Teixeira, University of Campinas (Weber)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

On the formation of norms, rules and laws: Claudius Härpfer, Goethe University (Simmel), Tom Kaden, York University of Toronto (Weber)

Simmel and Weber works used in the dialogue

Capitalism & value: Scott Lash, Goldsmiths, University of London (Simmel) and Uta Gerhardt, University of Heidelberg (Weber)

You can find the written dialogue on Capitalism and Value here.

Life of Weber and Simmel scholarship

Max Weber Studies annual lecture by Lawrence Scaff, Wayne State University: ‘Political Leadership and Political Education in a Subverted World’

Launch of the ‘Young Weberians’ network (Victor Strazzeri, Freie Universität Berlin)

Relaunch of Simmel studies (Gregor Fitzi, University of Bielefeld and Vincenzo Mele, University of Pisa)