Why is Werner Sombart not part of the core of classical sociologists? From fame to (near) oblivion: From Fame to (Near) Oblivion

Reiner Grundmann*, Nico Stehr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The life and work of Werner Sombart poses an intellectual puzzle in the genealogy of modern social theorists. During his lifetime, Sombart was probably the most influential and prominent social scientist in Germany as well as in many other countries. Today he is among the least known social scientists. Why did he lose his status as one of the most brilliant and influential scholars and intellectuals of the 20th century? Why is his work almost forgotten today? While Weber's thesis about the influence of Protestantism on the development of capitalism is widely known, even beyond sociological circles, few sociologists today know that Sombart had an alternative explanation. An obvious explanation for Sombart's fall from grace is his embrace of Nazism. As Heidegger provides a counter-example, Sombart's fate requires a more complex explanation. In addition, we explore the different reception of his work in economic and sociological circles as compared to cultural theory and history. © 2001, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-287
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Classical Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Sombart
  • modern social theorists
  • social scientist
  • Germany
  • 20th century
  • influence of Protestantism
  • development of capitalism
  • Nazism

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