Thomas Luckmann

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Thomas Luckmann (born October 14, 1927 in Aßling , Kingdom of Yugoslavia ; † May 10, 2016 ) was an Austrian-American sociologist who mainly taught in Germany. He was a founding member of the Liechtenstein PEN Club .


Luckmann's father Karl was a Yugoslav citizen, although he was still born in the Habsburg Monarchy , his mother Virina was a native of Slovenia. After the German occupation of Yugoslavia , Luckmann was formally a German citizen and enlisted in the Air Force in Vienna in 1944 . He was used as a flak helper and was taken prisoner of war. After the end of the war he lived in Vienna, where he made up his school leaving certificate.

From 1947 Luckmann studied linguistics and philosophy at the University of Vienna and in 1948 went to the French occupation zone in Austria , where he also studied psychology, Church Slavonic, Egyptology, French philology as well as history and German at the University of Innsbruck . In 1950 he went to the USA with his wife Benita and continued his studies at the New School for Social Research in New York , among others with Alfred Schütz . In 1953 he received American citizenship . After a Master of Arts in philosophy with a thesis on Albert Camus in 1953 , Luckmann received his doctorate in sociology in 1956 and initially taught as a "teaching assistant" at Hobart College in Geneva (New York) . In 1960 he became an assistant and later an associate professor at the New School for Social Research. In 1965 he received a call to the University of Frankfurt am Main . From 1970 until his retirement in 1994 he was Professor of Sociology at the University of Konstanz ; manuscripts of his work were archived there. Luckmann was married to Benita Luckmann (1925–1987) since 1950 .

Luckmann's best-known works are The Social Construction of Reality (1966, together with Peter L. Berger ), The Invisible Religion (1967; 1991 in German translation: The invisible religion ) and Structures of the Lifeworld (1982, adapted from the estate of Alfred Schütz ) . In his research, Luckmann dealt with social constructivism , phenomenological sociology , sociology of knowledge , sociology of religion , sociology of communication and philosophy of knowledge.


Luckmann had a great influence on the sociology of religion. Following on from Durkheim , whose ideas on a functionalist concept of religion he considered pioneering, Luckmann initiated a fundamental turning point in the sociology of religion with his thesis of the privatization of religion or of the "invisible religion". Religiousness was no longer understood as the practice of turning to a transcendent saint, and Luckmann no longer tied it to its institutionalized form ("churchliness"), rather he asks about individual religiosity, about the function and meaning of religion for that Individual in modern society. Luckmann already describes the act in which a human organism transcends its nature and becomes a social being as "religious". Following Luckmann, this change in perspective also led to increased efforts to empirically research individual religiosity with the help of qualitative methods.

Luckmann's works were and are received extremely broadly and controversially in the professional world. Critics find his concept of religion too broad; many areas of human life (e.g. sports such as football) meet the criteria of Luckmann's concept of religion and should therefore be designated as religions. The fact that the concept of religion is linked to human society even leads to the fact that all human existence is “religious”. This invalidates the concept of religion, which can no longer be used for specific religions (such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

The works on “popular religion” by Hubert Knoblauch , who also translated Luckmann's seminal book The Invisible Religion into German almost a quarter of a century after its publication, are considered a contemporary development .

Works (selection)

  • The Problem of Religion in Modern Society (1963).
  • The social construction of reality (1966, with Peter L. Berger ).
  • The Invisible Religion (1967).
    • The invisible religion . With a foreword by Hubert Knoblauch (Suhrkamp Taschenbuchwissenschaft. Volume 947), Frankfurt am Main 1991.
  • Sociology of Language (1975).
  • Structures of the lifeworld (1982, from the estate of Alfred Schütz ).
  • Lifeworld and Society (1980).
  • Collection of essays: lifeworld, science and society . UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, Konstanz 2007, ISBN 978-3-89669-675-5 .

Secondary literature

  • Bernt Schnettler: Thomas Luckmann . Classics of the Sociology of Knowledge series, UVK, Konstanz 2006.
  • Bernt Schnettler: Thomas Luckmann . Culture between constitution, construction and communication In: Stephan Moebius & Dirk Quadflieg (ed.): Culture. Present theories. VS - Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-531-14519-3 , pp. 170-184.
  • Hubert Knoblauch : The volatility of religion into the religious. Thomas Luckmann's Invisible Religion , in: Thomas Luckmann: The invisible religion , Frankfurt am Main 1991, pp. 7–41.
  • Hubert Knoblauch: Thomas Luckmann . In: Dirk Kaesler (ed.): Current theories of sociology. From Shmuel N. Eisenstadt to Postmoderne , Munich 2005, pp. 127–146.

Web links

Wikibooks: Thomas Luckmann  - learning and teaching materials

Individual evidence

  1. ^ DGS - German Society for Sociology: Prof. Dr. em. Thomas Luckmann passed away. In: Retrieved May 12, 2016 .
  2. Thomas Luckmann: “Partly by chance, partly because it's fun”. In: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Hrsg.): Kultusoziologie: Paradigms - Methods - Questions . VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010, p. 88.
  3. Biographical notes on Thomas and Benita Luckmann in the sociological archive of the University of Konstanz ( Memento of the original from June 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , as seen October 15, 2009 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /