Simmel has a very unique way of looking at society. When we think of society we generally think of a group of individuals who are associated together for religious, cultural, political, scientific, patriotic, or other purposes. While this is certainly true, Simmel describes society as being far more complex. He says that the term “society” is a reification, turning something abstract into something concrete which is why he prefers using “sociation” because it emphasizes relation and process. Until Simmel, I never thought to look at it in this way. Society is responsible for giving abstract ideas meaning. It is a way of turning something that is a process into a “thing”. It is important to understand that there is a difference between the two. An example would be an organization. Simmel says that we treat organization as if they are a “thing” – something tangible; however we fail to realize that it is a process, a set of relations among people. When we think about it like that it suddenly becomes more complex.
An interesting concept is that of sociability. That is- engaging in social conversations for the sake of pleasure. There is no ulterior motive. Simmel says that serious topics should be avoided. Once there is a “goal” you have diminished sociability. I think something like this is very hard to do. While many of us do engage in conversations with people like friends and family for pleasurable purposes; it is difficult not to engage in serious conversation. In order to preserve sociability, every individual participating in the conversation must constantly be aware and monitor/guide the discussion in such a way that it does not become “too serious”. However, having to constantly be aware of this takes away the pleasure of the conversation making it seem, in my opinion, impossible.