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Gurvitch, Georges


GURVITCH, GEORGES (1894–1966), French sociologist. Born in Russia, Gurvitch was educated at the universities of Petrograd and Paris. Gurvitch taught at the universities of Petrograd and Strasbourg, and from 1948 until his death at the University of Paris. He also was editor of the Cahiers Internationaux de Sociologie and the Journal of Legal and Political Sociology. He was profoundly influenced by the philosophers Hegel and Bergson, the socialists Petrajizhky and P.A. Sorokin, and especially by the phenomenological school in philosophy. Gurvitch worked on a highly analytical level, dealing particularly with the sociology of law, the nature of groups and social classes, and later the character of social time. Among his major sociological writings are The Sociology of Law (1942), Essais de Sociologie (1938), Eléments de sociologie juridique (1940), La déclaration des droits sociaux (1940), La vocation actuelle de la sociologie (1950), Twentieth Century Sociology (edited with W.E. More, 1945), Traité de sociologie (2 vols., 1958), Industrialisation et technocratie (edited with G. Friedmann, 1949), Déterminismes sociaux et liberté humaine (1955), Dialectique et sociologie (1962), and The Spectrum of Social Time (1964). He tried to increase awareness of (1) symbolic nuances in social life; (2) a series of conceptually distinct levels in human experience; (3) the importance of dialectical and oppositional mechanism in society; and (4) the relation between conceptions of time and human behavior. Gurvitch's distinction between microsociology and macrosociology has been widely accepted among sociologists, but his assertion that each uses distinct methods of investigation has been opposed by neopositivists and functionalists.


R. Toulemont, Sociologie et pluralisme dialectique: introduction à l'oeuvre de Georges Gurvitch (1955); P. Bosserman, Dialectical Sociology (1968).

[Alvin Boskoff]

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