Definition of Gesellschaft in US English:



  • Social relations based on impersonal ties, as duty to a society or organization.

    Contrasted with Gemeinschaft
    • ‘The idea of a Volksgemeinschaft was often counterposed to that of Gesellschaft, a reference to the Enlightenment notion of a shared community of interests based on universal human values.’
    • ‘It's a classic case of the way the Revolution pitted Gesellschaft against Gemeinschaft, modernity against tradition, universal values against local standards.’
    • ‘Any particular society is either an example of Gemeinschaft or Gesellschaft.’
    • ‘He has suggested that such communities preserve a residue of traditional Gemeinschaft amid the more individualistic and impersonal Gesellschaft of modernity.’
    • ‘The bonds of Gemeinschaft were narrow and exclusive, but emotionally, familially intense; those of Gesellschaft were less passionate and more reflective, less enveloping but potentially universal.’
    • ‘A remarkable number of these programs end up with a kind of populist longing for Gemeinschaft amid the alienating Gesellschaft of modernity.’


German, from Gesell(e) ‘companion’ + -schaft (see -ship).