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Gurvitch, Georges

Gurvitch, Georges (1896–1965) A Russian-born sociologist, who spent most of his professional life in France, and exerted a strong influence on the development of French sociology via his organizing and entrepreneurial activities in Strasburg and Paris. Although some of his work has been translated into English (see, for example, his Sociology of Law, 1942 and The Spectrum of Time, 1958
), it is largely alien territory to American and British sociologists, mainly because of its strongly philosophical character. Gurvitch described his approach as ‘hyper-empiric dialectics’ (the dialectical method grounded in reality), and was critical of Hegel and Marx for recognizing only one form of dialectics (polarization and then synthesis of opposites), whereas he claimed to have identified five: complementarity (in which two apparently distinct elements are part of a larger whole); mutual involvement, in which elements interpenetrate each other; ambiguity and ambivalence, where there is both attraction and repulsion; polarization of opposites (as in the Hegelian dialectic); and reciprocity of perspectives, or differentiation between parallel manifestations of the same elements.

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