Sociologist of our type of authorities: Franz-Xaver Kaufmann died | EUROtoday

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AWhen Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, born in Zurich in 1932, turned to sociology after learning economics in St. Gallen, the place he additionally obtained his doctorate in 1960, the topic was extremely regarded. At that point, it appeared, everybody needed to be sociologists or at the least argue sociologically.

Maybe as a result of they underestimated what that meant. For Kaufmann, who had written his first work on the “obsolescence” of contemporary societies, the self-discipline didn’t supply any modern participation within the dynamics of Western nation states. The topic didn’t appear appropriate to him as a lever for altering and even revolutionizing so-called late capitalism, however reasonably as an try to grasp the circumstances underneath which we reside.

For Kaufmann, the welfare state was the defining drive of those circumstances. It was solely after the Second World War that this central element of statehood started to be steadily found. In 1968, Kaufmann accomplished his habilitation with a research on the worth of “security” on the University of Münster, and in 1969 he turned a professor in Bielefeld, the place he held the primary German chair for social coverage and sociology till 1997 and advocated for the “active professionalization” of the topic.

He virtually based the sociology of the welfare state as a sub-discipline. In addition to easy-to-read books on the comparability of the German welfare state with different variants, on the results of inhabitants decline and on household change, the Swiss Catholic printed extensively on the sociology of faith, the church buildings and the tensions between faith and modernity. In Zurich he grew up intellectually within the circle of the century theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. He later studied in Paris with Raymond Aron and Georges Gurvitch.

At Bielefeld University, the place he helped to determine the well being sciences, Kaufmann was a haven of calm and, lengthy earlier than his retirement, an “elder statesman” who might win garlands of speeches in commissions with transient remarks. The sentence turned well-known: “Now we have calculated that this candidate is the best, now we just have to decide one thing: Do we want him too?”

The very obliging businessman, who was valued throughout all theoretical camps, turned offended – he was solely capable of talk with Dahrendorf and Luhmann – when he noticed social science requirements being undercut. The recreation theorists, for instance, didn’t maintain him in excessive esteem as a result of it appeared to him to be a non-serious perspective to carry all social motion into the mannequin of video games with payoffs. He was not a supporter of “as if”. In distinction, he noticed the duty of sociology as structuring poorly outlined issues.

For him, there was no contradiction between principle and analysis oriented in direction of the wants of the welfare state. A journalist colleague as soon as aptly referred to as it “a scientific and ethical early warning system” that, generally ineffectively, recognized neighborhood issues lengthy upfront. In addition to the demographic diagnoses, this additionally included his plea, made in 1973, to do extra to enhance the academic circumstances of precarious milieus reasonably than merely rising the normal social advantages for them.

Franz-Xaver Kaufmann was extremely honored and obtained many prizes and honors. The Pope congratulated him on his sixty fifth birthday. None of this made him useless. We mourn the lack of a person who was as form, humble and clever. Franz-Xaver Kaufmann died in Bonn on January seventh on the age of 91.