Amitai Etzioni

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amitai Etzioni (born January 4, 1929 in Cologne as Werner Falk ) is an American sociologist of German origin and known for his work on communitarianism and his political activities. He was the 86th president of the American Sociological Association .

Etzioni deals with a wide range of topics and formulates u. a. a counter-model to the neoliberal economy , which excessively emphasizes individual rights.


Etzioni fled in 1936 with his parents from the Nazis to Palestine . In 1946 he dropped out of school and joined the fight against the British mandate and against the Arab Legion as a member of the Palmach . After the end of the Israeli War of Independence , he met Martin Buber in 1950 , whose dialogic principle Etzioni decisively shaped. He studied for a year at the University of California, Berkeley and later received a position as a sociologist at Columbia University in New York, where he taught as a professor of sociology for 20 years. He was a vehement opponent of the Vietnam War . In 1978 he became a member of the liberal Washington think tank Brookings Institution . He was an advisor to US President Jimmy Carter and was appointed professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC in 1980. He is the director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at that university.

Etzioni was married twice and had five sons. His second wife and son died in a car accident.


Etzioni wrote about 30 books, including popular works such as The Spirit of Community . He received his doctorate on the Israeli kibbutzim in the late 1950s . Then he dealt with questions of organizational theory. In A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organizations (1961), with the help of a comparative analysis, he tries to show that organizations that share the values ​​of their members are more successful than those that only through control (extreme case: prison, hospital), manipulation or with With the help of incentive systems work (like a factory with piece workers). All members who submit to the control of coercive power, remunerative power or manipulative power, behave ambivalent and more or less alienated or calculating towards the goals of the organization. Through a moral participation, i. H. By internalizing the organizational goals, the performance contribution of the members increases.

With this approach, Etzioni (alongside John Argyris ) became one of the founders of commitment or involvement research, which investigates the factors that determine employees' identification with and their commitment to an organization. It was continued and empirically refined by other sociologists such as David Knoke (* 1947).

Etzioni's work Active Society (1968) is a macro-sociological theory of political and social processes. In terms of content, it is characterized by a theoretical plea for social self-regulation from below ( societal guidance ) by the active and their committed, self-determined action in society. In this context he coined the political science term “responsiveness”: the ability of an organization or society to react sensitively to the concerns of its members. By emphasizing the role of collective actors, he built a bridge from social to action theory.

Since the 1990s he has mainly been concerned with theories of communitarianism , whose roots he saw in various religions such as Judaism , Christianity or Confucianism , but also in the kibbutz movement. In contrast to Asian communitarianism, liberal communitarianism is characterized by conflict resolution mechanisms that mediate between the common good and individual rights. Both sides must be precisely balanced: major state interventions in individual rights or even just policy changes are only justified by crises that threaten the common good. The harmful side effects of political interference would have to be closely monitored. He developed this approach in The Limits of Privacy (1999) and The New Normal (2015).


The Canadian sociologist Simon Prideaux criticizes Etzioni's “archaic” concept of communitarianism, which goes back to the structural-functionalist social theory of the 1950s and which Etzioni grafted onto organizational theory. Etzioni assume homogeneous communities and clear and simple identities of their members.


In 2009, in the year of the financial crisis, Etzioni was awarded the Meister Eckhart Prize for his work on communitarianism - an alternative social concept on the pieces left by the delimitation of the markets .


  • From empire to community. A new draft of international relations . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-10-017024-8 (Original title: From Empire to Community . Translated by Karin Wördemann).
  • The active company. A theory of social and political processes . Verlag für Sozialwissenschaft, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-531-16583-7 (Original title: The active Society . Translated by Sylvia and Wolfgang Streeck).
  • Hans U. Nübel and Jürgen Hunke (eds.): The third way to a good society. In search of the new center . Miko Edition, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-935436-06-8 .
  • Each only himself the next one? Communicate values ​​in education. Ed., Incorporated. and provided with comments by Hans Nübel. (Herder) Freiburg, Basel, Vienna 2001.
  • The Monochrome Society. (Princeton Univ. Press) Princeton 2001.
  • Essays in Socio-Economics. (Springer-Verlag) Heidelberg 1999.
  • Martin Buber and the communitarian idea. Lecture from July 13, 1998. (Picus) Vienna 1999.
  • The Limits of Privacy. (Basic Books) New York 1999.
  • The responsible society. Individualism and Morality in Today's Democracy , Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-59335820-4 (Original: The New Golden Rule. Community and Morality in a Democratic Society, 1996)
  • The discovery of the community. Claims, responsibilities and the program of communitarianism , Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-7910-0923-0 (Original: The Spirit of Community. Rights, Responsibilities, and the Communitarian Agenda, 1993.)
  • Beyond the egoism principle. A new picture of economy, politics and society. (Schäffer-Poeschel) Stuttgart 1994. Second edition under the title: The fair society. Beyond socialism and capitalism. (Fischer-Taschenbuch) Frankfurt / M. 1996. (Original: The Moral Dimension. Towards a new economics, 1988)
  • The second creation of man. Manipulations of genetic technology. (Westdeutscher Verlag) Opladen 1977. (Original: Genetic fix. The Next Technological Revolution, 1973)
  • Sociology of the organization. (Juventa) Munich 1967. (Original: Modern Organizations, 1964)
  • The hard way to peace. A new strategy. (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) Göttingen 1965. (Original: The Hard Way to Peace. A New Strategy, 1965)
  • A Comparative Analysis of Complex Organizations. On Power, Involvement, and Their Correlates. (The Free Press) New York 1961.


See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Frank Adloff: Collective actors and overall social action: Amitai Etzionis contribution to macrosociology , in: Soziale Welt , 50, 1999, pp. 149–168.
  2. Simon Prideaux: From Organizational Theory to the New Communitarium of Amitai Etzioni. In: Canadian Journal of Sociology , 27 (2002) 1, pp. 69-81. doi = 10.2307 / 3341413.
  3. Previous winners