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Sociology at the University of Graz: Early days of the department

In the 19th century, Ludwig Gumplowicz (1938-1909) was the first scholar who promoted sociology at the University of Graz. He was a legal scholar (habilitation in constitutional law in 1876) and became full professor of constitutional and administrative law at the university in 1893. He published numerous sociological writings such as “Grundriss der Soziologie” in 1885, which was translated into English under the title “The outlines of Sociology”.  Many of his writings were translated into various languages and attracted worldwide attention.

The Sociological Society of Graz was founded in 1908, on the occasion of Gumplowicz’ 70th birthday. It is the second oldest sociological association in the German-speaking area after the Sociological Society in Vienna, which was founded in 1907.




Another very influential social scientist working at the University of Graz was Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950), who became full professor for political economy at the University of Graz in 1911 and also had a particular interest in sociological topics and research agendas. He briefly served as Finance Minister of Austria in 1919, and later held a chair at the University of Bonn. From 1932 on, he worked as a professor at Harvard University. Schumpeter was one of the most influential economists of the first half of the 20th century.  In 1918, Schumpeter’s essay  “Die Krise des Steuerstaates” (“The Crisis of the Tax State”) was published in a monograph series (“Zeitfragen aus dem Gebiete der Soziologie”) edited by the Sociological Society in Graz. In 1919, he published “Zur Soziologie der Imperialismen”, translated as “The Sociology of Imperialisms”, and in 1927 an essay on “Die sozialen Klassen im enthnisch homogenen Milieu”, translated as “Social Classes in an Ethnically Homogeneous Environment”. Both publications address issues that Schumpeter came across during his time in Graz.

Due to the research focus of Schumpeter and Gumplowicz the discipline of sociology was closely connected to  the fields of law and economics at the University of Graz. Nevertheless, it was the Faculty of Philosophy which fostered the institutianlisation of sociology with its perspective on cultural and social sciences by introducing a course for philosophical sociology in 1920, with a main focus on the social dimension.

First introduced a course for philosophical sociology in 1920, underlining the humanistic perspective of the field and establishing sociology as a discipline on an institutional level.


The history of the Department of Sociology at the University of Graz after World War II is closely connected with Johann Mokre (1901-1981), who was – after returning from exile – appointed as a full professor of Philosophy of Law and Political Science in 1949 with a special teaching responsibility for sociology. This enabled students to write dissertations in sociology. Furthermore, Mokre promoted the development of sociology on an organisational level by founding the Landesgruppe Steiermark, a local Styrian interest group of the nation-wide Austrian Sociological Association.



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