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A contrast in law department styles: close Gemeinschaft or distant Gesellschaft

Sociologists often invoke a “sharp distinction between rural Gemeinschaft (inherited, emotional community) and urban Gesellschaft (created, cold society).” Deirdre N. McCloskey, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (Univ. Chic. 2010) at 17, wrote that. She discredits it as a falso historical and societal split fabricated by German Romantic scholars of the nineteenth century (especially Ferdinand Tönnies).

Even if false, the ideas underlying the two “schafts” help us characterize how we can think of law departments. Some general counsel strive for a more cozy, family-like feel; others stress productivity and rules and professional detachment (See my post of Jan. 9, 2009: law departments as a close-knit family or a leave-me-alone workplace.). Of course, no law department is all hugs-and-kisses or all don’t touch me. Even within a law department moods of collegiality or otherwise vary.

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