Lewis Coser

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Lewis Alfred Coser , originally Ludwig Cohen , sometimes differently Ludwig Cohn (born November 27, 1913 in Berlin , † July 8, 2003 in Cambridge, Massachusetts ) was an American sociologist .

The son of a wealthy and educated family (his father was a stockbroker in Berlin) emigrated at the age of 20 before the persecution of the Jews in 1933. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris , from where he fled to the USA via Portugal. 1944 doctorate at Columbia University , 1951 to 1968 professor at Brandeis University , then at the State University of New York ; 1974 to 1975 he was president of the American Sociological Association . In 1982 he was accepted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . His wife was the sociologist Rose Laub Coser (1916–1994).

Theoretical approach

Coser turned against models of harmony and equilibrium, which he considered inadequate, and sought to capture today's political and social problems with his concept. His theoretical approach - at a critical half-distance to structural functionalism - is based on the dispute by Georg Simmel and played an important role in the international debates about a sociology of conflict in the 1960s (cf. Ralf Dahrendorf , John Rex , Hans-Jürgen Krysmanski et al.); it is also constructed with a view to its suitability for empirical analysis. Coser emphasized the benefits of conflict for the social order and for many social situations. For him, social conflicts are a condition for social change ; his terms of realistic and unrealistic conflict were used many times (in the German translation it says, somewhat misleading, but real or fake conflict).


  • The Functions of Social Conflict , Free Press, Glencoe (Illinois) 1956, and Routledge & K. Paul, London 1956.
    • (German) theory of social conflicts . Translated from English by Sebastian and Hanne Herkommer, VS, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3-531-16582-0 (first edition of the translation: Luchterhand, Neuwied / Berlin 1965, volume 30 of the sociological texts ).
  • Sociological Theory , 1964
  • Men of Ideas , Free Press (et al.), New York 1965
  • Political Sociology , 1967
  • Continuities in the Study of Social Conflict , 1967
  • Masters of Sociological Thought , 1970 (Introduction to Sociological Classics) ISBN 1577663071
  • Greedy Institutions . Patterns of Undivided Commitment. The Free Press, New York 1974
    • (German) Greedy institutions . Translated from the American and with an afterword by Marianne Egger de Campo, Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2015 ISBN 978-3-518-29719-3 .
  • The Idea of ​​Social Structure, Papers in Honor of RK Merton , 1975
  • The Uses of Controversy in Sociology , 1976
  • Refugee Scholars in America , 1984
  • Conflict and Consensus , 1984

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