Werner Sombart (/ˈvɜːrnər ˈzɒmbɑːrt/; German: [ˈzɔmbaɐ̯t]; 19 January 1863 – 18 May 1941) was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the “Youngest Historical School” and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century.
|Born||19 January 1863|
|Died||18 May 1941 (aged 78)|
|Known for||Coining the term "late capitalism"|
|Fields||Economics, sociology, history|
|Institutions||University of Breslau, Handelshochschule Berlin, Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität|
|Doctoral advisor||Gustav von Schmoller|
|Doctoral students||Wassily Leontief|
|Influences||Max Weber, Karl Marx|
|Influenced||Karl Polanyi, Joseph Schumpeter|
Werner Sombart was born in Ermsleben, Harz, the son of a wealthy liberal politician, industrialist, and estate-owner, Anton Ludwig Sombart. He studied law and economics at the universities of Pisa, Berlin, and Rome. In 1888, he received his Ph.D. from Berlin under the direction of Gustav von Schmoller and Adolph Wagner, then the most eminent German economists.
As an economist and especially as a social activist, Sombart was then seen as radically left-wing, and so only received — after some practical work as head lawyer of the Bremen Chamber of Commerce — a junior professorship at the out-of-the-way University of Breslau. Although faculties at such eminent universities as Heidelberg and Freiburg called him to chairs, the respective governments always vetoed this. Sombart, at that time, was an important Marxian, someone who used and interpreted Karl Marx — to the point that Friedrich Engels said he was the only German professor who understood Das Kapital. Sombart called himself a "convinced Marxist," but later wrote that "It had to be admitted in the end that Marx had made mistakes on many points of importance."
As one of the German academics concerned with contemporary social policy, Sombart also joined the Verein für Socialpolitik (Social Policy Association) around 1888, together with his friend and colleague Max Weber. This was then a new professional association of German economists affiliated with the historical school, who saw the role of economics primarily as finding solutions to the social problems of the age and who pioneered large scale statistical studies of economic issues.
Sombart was not the first sociologist to devote an entire book to the concept of social movement as he did in his Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung, published in 1896. His understanding of social movements was inspired by Marx and by a book on social movements by Lorenz von Stein. For him, the rising worker’s movement was a result of the inherent contradictions of capitalism. The proletarian situation created a “love for the masses”, which, together with the tendency “to a communistic way of life” in social production, was a prime feature of the social movement.
In 1902, his magnum opus, Der moderne Kapitalismus (Historisch-systematische Darstellung des gesamteuropäischen Wirtschaftslebens von seinen Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart), appeared in two volumes (he expanded the work in 1916, and added a third volume in 1927; all three volumes were then split into semi-volumes for a total of six books). It is a systematic history of economics and economic development through the centuries and very much a work of the Historical School. The first book deals with the transition from feudal society to capitalism, and the last book treats conditions in the 20th century. The development of capitalism is divided into three stages:
Although later much disparaged by neo-classical economists, and much criticized in specific points, Der moderne Kapitalismus is still today a standard work with important ramifications for, e.g., the Annales school (Fernand Braudel). His work was criticised by Rosa Luxemburg, who attributed to it "the express intention of driving a wedge between the trade unions and the social democracy in Germany, and of enticing the trade unions over to the bourgeois position."
In 1903 Sombart accepted a position as associate editor of the Archives for Social Science and Social Welfare, where he worked with his colleagues Edgar Jaffé and Max Weber.
In 1906, Sombart accepted a call to a full professorship at the Berlin School of Commerce, an inferior institution to Breslau but closer to political “action” than Breslau. Here, inter alia, companion volumes to Modern Capitalism dealing with luxury, fashion, and war as economic paradigms appeared; the former two were the key works on the subject until now. Also in 1906 his Why is there no Socialism in the United States? appeared. The book is a famous work on American exceptionalism in this respect to this day.
Sombart's 1911 book, Die Juden und das Wirtschaftsleben (The Jews and Modern Capitalism), is an addition to Max Weber's historic study of the connection between Protestantism (especially Calvinism) and Capitalism, with Sombart documenting Jewish involvement in historic capitalist development. He argued that Jewish traders and manufacturers, excluded from the guilds, developed a distinctive antipathy to the fundamentals of medieval commerce, which they saw as primitive and unprogressive: the desire for 'just' (and fixed) wages and prices; for an equitable system in which shares of the market were agreed and unchanging; profits and livelihoods modest but guaranteed; and limits placed on production. Excluded from the system, Sombart argued, the Jews broke it up and replaced it with modern capitalism, in which competition was unlimited and the only law was pleasing the customer. Paul Johnson, who considers the work "a remarkable book", notes that Sombart left out some inconvenient truths, and ignored the powerful mystical elements of Judaism. Sombart refused to recognize, as Weber did, that wherever these religious systems, including Judaism, were at their most powerful and authoritarian, commerce did not flourish. Jewish businessmen, like Calvinist ones, tended to operate most successfully when they had left their traditional religious environment and moved on to fresher pastures.
In his somewhat eclectic 1913 book Der Bourgeois (translated as The quintessence of capitalism), Sombart endeavoured to provide a psychological and sociological portrait of the modern businessman, and to explain the origins of the capitalist spirit. The book begins with "the greed for gold", the roots of private enterprise, and the types of entrepreneurs. Subsequent chapters discuss "the middle class outlook" and various factors shaping the capitalist spirit - national psychology, racial factors, biological factors, religion, migrations, technology, and "the influence of capitalism itself."
In a work published in 1915, a "war book" with the title Händler und Helden Sombart welcomed the "German War" as the "inevitable conflict between the English commercial civilisation and the heroic culture of Germany". In this book, according to Friedrich Hayek, Sombart revealed an unlimited contempt for the "commercial views of the English people" who had lost all warlike instincts, as well as contempt for "the universal striving for the happiness of the individual". To Sombart, in this work, the highest ideal is the "German idea of the State. As formulated by Fichte, Lassalle, and Rodbertus, the state is neither founded nor formed by individuals, nor an aggregate of individuals, nor is its purpose to serve any interests of individuals. It is a 'Volksgemeinschaft' (people's community) in which the individual has no rights but only duties. Claims of the individual are always an outcome of the commercial spirit. The 'ideas of 1789' – Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity – are characteristically commercial ideals which have no other purpose but to secure certain advantages to individuals." Sombart further claims that the war had helped the Germans to rediscover their "glorious heroic past as a warrior people"; that all economic activities are subordinated to military ends; and that to regard war as inhuman and senseless is a product of commercial views. There is a life higher than the individual life, the life of the people and the life of the state, and it is the purpose of the individual to sacrifice himself for that higher life. War against England was therefore also a war against the opposite ideal – the "commercial ideal of individual freedom".
At last, in 1917, Sombart became professor at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, then the pre-eminent university in Europe if not in the world, succeeding his mentor Adolph Wagner. He remained on the chair until 1931 but continued teaching until 1940. During that period he was also one of the most renowned sociologists alive, more prominent a contemporary than even his friend Max Weber. Sombart's insistence on Sociology as a part of the Humanities (Geisteswissenschaften) — necessarily so because it dealt with human beings and therefore required inside, empathic "Verstehen" rather than the outside, objectivizing "Begreifen" (both German words translate as "understanding" into English) — became extremely unpopular already during his lifetime. It was seen as the opposite of the "scientification" of the social sciences, in the tradition of Auguste Comte, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber — (although this is a misunderstanding since Weber largely shared Sombart's views in these matters) — which became fashionable during this time and has more or less remained so until today. However, because Sombart's approach has much in common with Hans-Georg Gadamer's Hermeneutics, which likewise is a Verstehen-based approach to understanding the world, he is coming back in some sociological and even philosophical circles that are sympathetic to that approach and critical towards the scientification of the world. Sombart's key sociological essays are collected in his posthumous 1956 work, Noo-Soziologie.
In 1934 he published Deutscher Sozialismus where he claimed a "new spirit" was beginning to "rule mankind". The age of capitalism and proletarian socialism was over, with "German socialism" (National-Socialism) taking over. This German socialism puts the "welfare of the whole above the welfare of the individual". German socialism must effect a "total ordering of life" with a "planned economy in accordance with state regulations". The new legal system will confer on individuals "no rights but only duties" and that "the state should never evaluate individual persons as such, but only the group which represents these persons". German socialism is accompanied by the Volksgeist (national spirit) which is not racial in the biological sense but metaphysical: "the German spirit in a Negro is quite as much within the realm of possibility as the Negro spirit in a German". The antithesis of the German spirit is the Jewish spirit, which is not a matter of being born Jewish or believing in Judaism but is a capitalistic spirit. The English people possess the Jewish spirit and the "chief task" of the German people and National Socialism is to destroy the Jewish spirit.
However, his 1938 anthropology book, Vom Menschen, is clearly anti-Nazi, and was indeed hindered in publication and distribution by the Nazis. In his attitude towards the Nazis, he is often likened to Martin Heidegger as well as his younger friend and colleague Carl Schmitt, but it is clear that, while the latter two tried to be the vanguard thinkers for the Third Reich in their field and only became critical when they were too individualistic and elbowed out from their power positions, Sombart was always much more ambivalent. Sombart had many, indeed more than the typical proportion, of Jewish students, most of whom felt moderately positive about him after the war, although he clearly was no hero nor resistance fighter.
Sombart's legacy today is difficult to ascertain, because the alleged National Socialist affiliations have made an objective reevaluation difficult (while his earlier socialist ones harmed him with the more bourgeois circles), especially in Germany. As has been stated, in economic history, his "Modern Capitalism" is regarded as a milestone and inspiration, although many details have been questioned. Key insights from his economic work concern the - recently again validated - discovery of the emergence of double-entry accounting as a key precondition for Capitalism and the interdisciplinary study of the City in the sense of urban studies. Like Weber, Sombart makes double-entry bookkeeping system an important component of modern capitalism. He wrote in "Medieval and Modern Commercial Enterprise" that "The very concept of capital is derived from this way of looking at things; one can say that capital, as a category, did not exist before double-entry bookkeeping. Capital can be defined as that amount of wealth which is used in making profits and which enters into the accounts." He also coined the term and concept of creative destruction which is a key ingredient of Joseph Schumpeter's theory of innovation (Schumpeter actually borrowed much from Sombart, not always with proper reference). In sociology, mainstream proponents still regard Sombart as a 'minor figure' and his sociological theory an oddity; today it is more philosophical sociologists and culturologists who, together with heterodox economists, use his work. Sombart has always been very popular in Japan.
One of the reasons of a lack of reception in the United States is that most of his works were for a long time not translated into English - in spite of, and excluding, as far as the reception is concerned, the classic study on Why there is no Socialism in America.
The Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik (ISSN 0174-819X, English: Archives for Social Science and Social Welfare) was an academic journal for the social sciences in Germany between 1888 and 1933. Its first editors were Edgar Jaffé, Werner Sombart, and Max Weber. The latter published his seminal essay The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism in the journal in two parts in 1904 and 1905.
Jaffé bought the journal in 1903 for 60000 Mark from the Social Democrat Heinrich Braun, who had founded and edited the journal under the title Archiv für soziale Gesetzgebung und Statistik (Archive for Social Legislation and Statistics) since 1888 and changed its title to Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik in 1904.
In 1933, when the Nazis gained power in Germany, the last editor of the Archive, then-editor Emil Lederer and half of the editorial staff of the journal were forced to emigrate and the journal ceased to exist.Basil Yamey
Basil S. Yamey, CBE (born 4 May 1919) is a South African economist. He was born in Cape Town in South Africa, and educated at the University of Cape Town. For many years he was a Professor at the London School of Economics. He was a part-time member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission from 1966 to 1978, and author of many books and articles, including one on the economics of underdeveloped countries co-authored with Peter Thomas Bauer.
Yamey's interest in rational economic decision-making led him to study historical accounting records. Yamey rejected the claim by Werner Sombart that the double-entry bookkeeping system was a pre-condition, or at least an important stimulating factor, for the emergence of modern capitalism. Yamey combined his interest in Accounting History with his love of art (he was a trustee of the National Gallery, London from 1974 to 1981 and of the Tate Gallery, London from 1978 to 1981) in his book Art & Accounting, a richly-illustrated survey of paintings portraying commercial scenes and business-people.Bielefeld School
The Bielefeld School is a group of German historians based originally at Bielefeld University who promote social history and political history using quantification and the methods of political science and sociology. The leaders include Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Jürgen Kocka and Reinhart Koselleck. Instead of emphasizing the personalities of great historical leaders, as in the conventional approach, it concentrates on socio-cultural developments. History as "historical social science" (as Wehler described it) has mainly been explored in the context of studies of German society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The movement has published the scholarly journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft: Zeitschrift fur Historische Sozialwissenschaft since 1975.
Social history developed within West German historiography during the 1950s–60s as the successor to the national history discredited by National Socialism. The German brand of "history of society"—Gesellschaftsgeschichte—has been known from its beginning in the 1960s for its application of sociological and political modernization theories to German history. Modernization theory was presented by Wehler and his Bielefeld School as the way to transform "traditional" German history, that is, national political history, centered on a few "great men," into an integrated and comparative history of German society encompassing societal structures outside politics. Wehler drew upon the modernization theory of Max Weber, with concepts also from Karl Marx, Otto Hintze, Gustav Schmoller, Werner Sombart and Thorstein Veblen.Creative destruction
Creative destruction (German: schöpferische Zerstörung), sometimes known as Schumpeter's gale, is a concept in economics which since the 1950s has become most readily identified with the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter who derived it from the work of Karl Marx and popularized it as a theory of economic innovation and the business cycle.
According to Schumpeter, the "gale of creative destruction" describes the "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one". In Marxian economic theory the concept refers more broadly to the linked processes of the accumulation and annihilation of wealth under capitalism.The German Marxist sociologist Werner Sombart has been credited with the first use of these terms in his work Krieg und Kapitalismus (War and Capitalism, 1913). In the earlier work of Marx, however, the idea of creative destruction or annihilation (German: Vernichtung) implies not only that capitalism destroys and reconfigures previous economic orders, but also that it must ceaselessly devalue existing wealth (whether through war, dereliction, or regular and periodic economic crises) in order to clear the ground for the creation of new wealth.In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), Joseph Schumpeter developed the concept out of a careful reading of Marx’s thought (to which the whole of Part I of the book is devoted), arguing (in Part II) that the creative-destructive forces unleashed by capitalism would eventually lead to its demise as a system (see below). Despite this, the term subsequently gained popularity within neoliberal or free-market economics as a description of processes such as downsizing in order to increase the efficiency and dynamism of a company. The Marxian usage has, however, been retained and further developed in the work of social scientists such as David Harvey, Marshall Berman, Manuel Castells and Daniele Archibugi.Grunewald
Grunewald (German pronunciation ) is a locality (Ortsteil) within the Berlin borough (Bezirk) of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Famous for the homonymous forest, until 2001 administrative reform it was part of the former district of Wilmersdorf.Historical school of economics
The historical school of economics was an approach to academic economics and to public administration that emerged in the 19th century in Germany, and held sway there until well into the 20th century. The professors involved compiled massive economic histories of Germany and Europe. Numerous Americans were their students. The school was opposed by theoretical economists. Prominent leaders included Gustav von Schmoller (1838–1917), and Max Weber (1864–1920) in Germany, and Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883–1950) in the United States.International Institute of Sociology
The International Institute of Sociology (IIS) is a scholarly organization which seeks to stimulate and facilitate the development, exchange, and application of scientific knowledge to questions of sociological relevance. Membership is open to all sociologists as well as to scholars in neighbouring disciplines.
Created in Paris in 1893 by René Worms, it is the oldest continuous sociological association in existence. Its first congress was held in Paris in October 1894 under the chairmanship of René Worms, which formalised the foundation of this institution. The Révue internationale de sociologie, founded the year before, became the printed organ of the Institute. Since its foundation the goal of the IIS has been to bring together sociologists from around the world. It has a longstanding tradition of promoting discussions on the most crucial theoretical issues of the day and on the practical use of social scientific knowledge. Among its members and associates were prominent scholars such as: Franz Boas, Roger Bastide, Lujo Brentano, Theodor Geiger, Gustave Le Bon, Karl Mannheim, William F. Ogburn, Pitirim Sorokin, Georg Simmel, Werner Sombart, Gabriel Tarde, Ferdinand Toennies, Thorstein Veblen, Lester F. Ward, Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Sidney Webb, Max Weber, Florian Znaniecki, and Ludwig GumplowiczEvery two years the IIS organizes a world congress in Sociology. Recent IIS World Congresses were held in Yerevan (2009), Budapest (2008), Stockholm (2005), Beijing (2004), Kraków (2001), Tel Aviv (1999), Köln (1997), Trieste (1995), Paris (1993), Kobe (1991), and Rome (1989).
In addition to the congresses and other meetings, the IIS publishes the Annales de l'Institut International de Sociologie / Annals of the International Institute of Sociology. First published in 1895 after the first world congress, this book series seeks to present cutting-edge research and synthesis.Jewish question
The "Jewish question", also referred to as the "Jewish problem", was a wide-ranging debate in 19th- and 20th-century European society pertaining to the appropriate status and treatment of Jews in society. The debate was similar to other so-called "national questions" and dealt with the civil, legal, national and political status of Jews as a minority within society, particularly in Europe in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The debate started within societies, politicians and writers in western and central Europe influenced by the Age of Enlightenment and the ideals of the French Revolution. The issues included the legal and economic Jewish disabilities (e.g. Jewish quotas and segregation), Jewish assimilation, Jewish emancipation and Jewish Enlightenment.
The expression has been used by antisemitic movements from the 1880s onwards, culminating in the Nazi phrase "the Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Similarly, the expression was used by proponents for and opponents of the establishment of an autonomous Jewish homeland or a sovereign Jewish state.John Henry Clarke
John Henry Clarke (1853 – 24 November 1931) was a prominent English classical homeopath. He was also, arguably, the most important anti-Semite in Great Britain. He led The Britons, an anti-Semitic organisation.Clarke was a busy practitioner. As a physician he not only had his own clinic in Piccadilly, London, but he also was a consultant at the London Homeopathic Hospital and researched into new remedies — nosodes.Karl Diehl (economist)
Karl Diehl (March 27, 1864, Frankfurt—May 12, 1943 in Freiburg im Breisgau) was a German economist and professor who taught from 1908 until his death in Freiburg. He taught at the universities of Heidelberg and Freiburg, known for teaching on the subject of Anarchism.The motivating force behind his scholarship was that academia must counter the idea that "...anarchism represents a criminal sect which lacks any social or political programme..." According to one historian on German reformers, Diehl had acquired a reputation as the "most important authority on socialism, communism, and anarchism," comparable only to Werner Sombart.Leo Rogin
Leo Rogin (1893, Mohilev, Belarus – 1947, Berkeley, CA, USA) was an American economist, economic historian and historian of economic thought.Nicolaus Sombart
Nicolaus Sombart (10 May 1923 – 4 July 2008) was a German cultural sociologist, historian and writer.
The son of Werner Sombart and his Romanian wife Corina Leon, Sombart was known, in particular, as an analyst of Wilhelmine Germany and a critique of Carl Schmitt. For nearly 30 years, Sombart benefited from an appointment as senior cultural civil servant attached to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, while also continuing his career as a writer and academic, principally in Berlin at the Freie Universität.Pre-Marx socialists
While Marxism had a significant impact on socialist thought, pre-Marxist thinkers (before Karl Marx wrote on the subject) have advocated socialism in forms both similar and in stark contrast to Marx and Engels' conception of socialism, advocating some form of collective ownership over large-scale production, worker-management within the workplace, or in some cases, a form of planned economy.
Early socialist philosophers and political theorists:
Gerrard Winstanley, who founded the Diggers movement in the United Kingdom
Charles Fourier, French philosopher who propounded principles very similar to Karl Marx
Louis Blanqui, French socialist and writer
Marcus Thrane, Norwegian socialist 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer whose works influenced the French Revolution
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, French politician writer.Ricardian socialist economists:
Thomas Hodgskin, English Ricardian socialist and free-market anarchist
John Francis Bray
Werner Sombart, German economist and sociologist of the Historical school of economics
John Stuart Mill, classical political economist who came to advocate worker-cooperative socialismUtopian socialist thinkers:
Claude Henri de Saint-Simon
Étienne CabetReiner Grundmann
Reiner Grundmann, (born 29 September 1955 near Freudenstadt) is Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at the University of Nottingham and Director of its interdisciplinary STS Research Priority Group. He is a German sociologist and political scientist who has resided in the UK since 1997. Previous appointments include Aston University and the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.Robert Michels
Robert Michels (German: [ˈmɪçəls]; 9 January 1876, Cologne, Germany – 3 May 1936, Rome, Italy) was a German-born Italian sociologist who contributed to elite theory by describing the political behavior of intellectual elites. He belonged to the Italian school of elitism. He is best known for his book Political Parties, published in 1911, which contains a description of the "iron law of oligarchy." He was a friend and disciple of Max Weber, Werner Sombart and Achille Loria. Politically, he moved from the Social Democratic Party of Germany to the Italian Socialist Party, adhering to the Italian revolutionary syndicalist wing and later to Italian Fascism, which he saw as a more democratic form of socialism. His ideas provided the basis of moderation theory which delineates the processes through which radical political groups are incorporated into the existing political system.Sabri Gürses
Sabri Gürses (born February 7, 1972) is a Turkish writer. He has published poetry, novels, and short stories. His best-known novel in Turkey is Sevişme ("Making Love"), which is a science fiction novel about the way people use their bodies in a postmodern age. He has also written a science fiction trilogy, Boşvermişler (which may be translated as "The Ones Who Gave Up").
Gürses is also making translations from Russian and English to Turkish; among his translations are works by Mikhail Bakhtin, Yuri Lotman, Andrei Bely, Werner Sombart, Joseph Campbell, John Smolens, Jonathan Lethem, Kim Stanley Robinson, Shusha Guppy, Charles Nicholl, Don Delillo, William Guthrie, Werner Sombart, Fredric Jameson, William Shakespeare, Niall Lucy, David Foster Wallace, Richard Stites, Slavoj Žižek and Annie Proulx. He has made a complete translation of the famous revolutionary Sultan Galiev's writings from Russian to Turkish in 2006. This is the first complete translation of Galiev's Russian writings to another language.
As of 2005, he is publishing an online magazine/blog, Çeviribilim, focused on translation and its studies in Turkey.Verein für Socialpolitik
The Verein für Socialpolitik (German: [fɛɐ̯ˈʔaɪn fyːɐ̯ zoˈtsi̯al.poliˌtːik], or the German Economic Association, is an important society of economists in the German-speaking area.Weber and German politics
This article is about the political views and activities of the German sociologist Max Weber.
Weber described himself as a left-wing liberal. An example of his 19th-century liberal views is staunch nationalism based on classical republicanism, and that a nation with freedom for individuals is maintained by the virtues and character of its citizens. He also had a strong belief in the benefits of capitalism. Weber's assertion that capitalism had deep Christian origins was, ultimately, a political defense of the market system. His work stands in sharp contrast to socialists like Werner Sombart or RH Tawney, who argued that capitalism was fundamentally un-Christian.Werturteilsstreit
The Werturteilsstreit (German for "value judgment dispute") is a Methodenstreit, a quarrel in German sociology and economics around the question whether the social sciences are a normative obligatory statement in politics and its measures applied in political actions, and whether their measures can be justified scientifically.The quarrel took place in the years before World War I, between the members of the Verein für Socialpolitik. Main opponents were Max Weber, Werner Sombart and Gustav Schmoller.
The Zweiter Werturteilsstreit is the debate between the supporter of the Kritische Theorie and the Kritischer Rationalismus during the 1960s — better known as Positivismusstreit.