Georges Friedmann

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Georges Philippe Friedmann (French: [fʁidman]; Paris, 13 May 1902 – 15 November 1977, Paris), was a French sociologist.

Georges Friedmann was the founder of the sociology of work after World War II. In 1921, after studying industrial chemistry, he entered a teacher training college on the rue d'Ulm, in Paris, France. During the war, he was an intellectual Marxist and close to the communist party. Friedmann devoted the majority of his work to the study of relationships between man and machine in industrial societies in the first half of the 20th century.


Friedmann's work, like Work in Crumbs (1956), was often reduced to be presented as a sociology of work.

In 1931, he approached the problems posed by work and techniques.

In 1946, his thesis Problems of Industrial Mechanization introduced the new sociology of work to France. At this time, sociology had already been made known and was recognized both in France by Friedmann, and overseas by his American peers. However, Friedmann's journey and work exceeded this unique sociology identity of work by a long way.

In 1960, he explored a different field of technical culture: communications and mass culture.

Friedmann's forte as an organizer and initiator of research was seen during the time he headed the Center for Sociological Studies (at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique).

During the rise of Fascism in the 1930s, Friedmann, like others of his time, wondered about the Soviet experience. He learned to speak Russian at the Institute of Oriental Languages, and between 1932 and 1936 made many trips to the USSR. From these travels he drew two works, in which he expressed his support for the communist regime in Moscow.

With the declaration of war and signing of the German-Soviet Pact, Friedmann, with Jean Cassou at his side, engaged in resistance. Friedmann became a man of action.[clarification needed] In 1987, ten years after his death, Friedmann's War Journal, recounting his experiences as a member of the resistance, was published.

After World War II, along with other travellers such as Vercors, Jean Cassou, and André Chamson, Friedmann drafted an account of travellers to, and sympathizers of, the USSR. The account, written in 1946, was entitled The Hour of Choice, and was published in 1947. The account can be summarized briefly by the following sentence: "The USSR was an example, but not a model."


Throughout his life Friedmann always took care to maintain the bonds between sociology and great Western metaphysical philosophy. He was an avid reader of Leibniz and Spinoza. His moral and philosophical reflections on the future of technical civilization can be found in Power and Wisdom, which was published in 1970.


  • Ou va le travail humain. Paris: Gallimard, 1950.
  • La Puissance et la Sagesse (Paris, 1970)
  • "Le Sage et notre siècle," Revue de Synthèse 99 (1978)

External links[edit]

This article draws heavily on the Georges Friedmann article in the French-language Wikipedia, which was accessed in the version of March 27, 2006.