Thomas Luckmann

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Thomas Luckmann
Tomaž Luckmann

14 October 1927
Died10 May 2016
Spouse(s)Benita Petkevic
Academic background
Alma materThe New School for Social Research
InfluencesAlfred Schütz
Academic work
DisciplineSociology, Philosophy
Sub-disciplinePhenomenology, sociology of knowledge, sociology of religion
InstitutionsUniversity of Konstanz, The New School for Social Research
Notable worksThe Social Construction of Reality

Thomas Luckmann (/ˈlʌkmən/; October 14, 1927 – May 10, 2016) was an American-Austrian sociologist of German and Slovene origin who taught mainly in Germany. His contributions were central to studies in sociology of communication, sociology of knowledge, sociology of religion, and the philosophy of science.


He was born in Jesenice, then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. His father was an Austrian industrialist, while his mother was from a Slovene family from Ljubljana.[1] On his mother's side, he was the cousin of the Slovene poet Božo Vodušek. He grew up in a bilingual environment.[2] In the family, they spoke both Slovene and German, and he attended Slovene-language schools in Jesenice until 1941, and then German ones.[citation needed]

During World War II, in 1943, he and his mother moved to Vienna.[2] In 1944 he was drafted for the army,[3] joining the Luftwaffe where he served as a Luftwaffenhelfer.[4] In 1945 he became a prisoner of war, and escaping after three months. He then settled in Vienna.[3]

Luckmann studied philosophy and linguistics at the University of Vienna and Innsbruck.[3] In 1950 he married Benita Petkevic, with whom he moved to the United States, where he studied at The New School in New York City.[1] The couple had three daughters.[2]

He worked as a professor of Sociology at the University of Konstanz in Germany from 1970 to his retirement,[5] and later professor emeritus.[6]

He died at the age of 88 on May 10, 2016, at his home in Austria.[3]


Luckmann was a follower of the phenomenologically oriented school of sociology, established by the Austrian-American scholar Alfred Schütz. He contributed to the foundation of phenomenological sociology, the sociology of religion in modern societies, and the sociology of knowledge and communication.[3]

In his works, he developed the theory of social constructionism, which argues that all knowledge, including the most basic common sense knowledge of everyday reality, is derived from and maintained by social interactions. Together with Peter L. Berger, he wrote the book The Social Construction of Reality in 1966. The book was an important part of the move in sociology, and partiuclarly the sociology of religion, away from the view of religion and religious values as central to the social order, arguing that social order is socially constructed by individuals and/or groups of individuals.[7]

In 1982 he continued the work of Alfred Schütz, drawing on Schütz's notes and unfinished manuscripts to complete Structures of the Life-World, published (posthumously for Schütz) in 1982.[3]

Together with Richard Grathoff and Walter M. Sprondel, Luckmann founded the Social Science Archive Konstanz (also known as the Alfred Schütz Memorial Archives).[3]

Luckmann was a member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and held honorary doctorates from the Universities of Linköping, Ljubljana, Trier and Buenos Aires.[citation needed]

In 1998 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).[8]

In 2004 Luckmann became an honorary member of the Slovenian Sociological Association.[5] The German Sociological Association awarded him a prize for his outstanding lifetime contribution to sociology at its 2002 Congress, and Luckmann became an honorary member in 2016.[3]

Essential bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Novotny, L (2016). "Social and communicative construction of reality - the memory of Thomas Luckmann". Sociologický Casopis (in Czech). 52: 581–589.
  2. ^ a b c "Nachrichten und Mitteilungen". KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie (in German). 68 (4): 757–767. 2016-10-27. doi:10.1007/s11577-016-0396-z. ISSN 0023-2653.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Endreß, Martin (2016). "Thomas Luckmann (October 14, 1927–May 10, 2016)". Human Studies. 39 (4): 487–491. doi:10.1007/s10746-016-9416-2. ISSN 0163-8548.
  4. ^ Thomas Luckmann: „Teilweise zufällig, teilweise, weil es doch Spaß macht“. In: Monika Wohlrab-Sahr (Hrsg.): Kultusoziologie: Paradigmen – Methoden – Fragestellungen. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2010, p. 88.
  5. ^ a b Adam, F; Čas, B (2004). "Utemeljitev za imenovanje dr. Tomaža Luckmanna, profesorja emeritusa, za častnega člana Slovenskega sociološkega društva". Druzboslovne Razprave (in Slovenian). 20: 87–89.
  6. ^ "In memoriam Thomas Luckmann (14. Oktober 1927 - 10. Mai 2016)". Soziologie (in German). 45: 335–341. 2016.
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of global religion. Juergensmeyer, Mark., Roof, Wade Clark. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications. 2012. ISBN 9781452266565. OCLC 767737455.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ "Honorary Doctors". Retrieved 2018-08-30.

Further reading[edit]

  • Frane Adam, "Tomaž Luckmann" in Thomas Luckmann, Družba, komunikacija, smisel, transcendenca (Ljubljana: Študentska založba, 2007)
  • Patricija Maličev, "Thomas Luckmann. Človek s posebnostmi" in Delo, Sobotna priloga (April 12, 2008), 25-27
  • Bernt Schnettler, "Thomas Luckmann", UVK, Konstanz 2007 (in German, 158 pages)
  • Marcin K. Zwierżdżynski, "Where is Religion? The Five Dichotomies of Thomas Luckmann", Nomos, Cracow 2009 (in Polish, 288 pages, with summary in English)

External links[edit]