Georg Simmel is one of the founding figures of sociology whose work is comparable in importance to that of Marx, Weber and Durkheim, as well as being a major philosopher. His writings on money, metropolises, and modernity have inspired generations of thinkers for over a century.


In this book leading expert Thomas Kemple clearly and accessibly introduces Simmel’s sociological and philosophical work, ranging from his masterpiece The Philosophy of Money to his famous essays ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’ and ‘Fashion’ and beyond. He situates his writings within his social and intellectual circles, and analyses them in light of current debates surrounding urban sociology and social networks, phenomenology and metaphysics, cultural criticism and the study of everyday life. He brings Simmel’s most famous works into conversation with others that have received less attention, such as his writings on nature, art, religion, sexuality.


Through diagrams, everyday examples, and expositions of the work of his predecessors and contemporaries, this highly readable book captures the innovative spirit of Simmel’s unique method of thinking about cultural objects and his original style of writing about social life. It will be the leading guide to Simmel’s thought for generations of students and scholars.

Show More
Buy Now


Order Exam Copy

For lectures Only

More Info
  • December 2018 (pb)
    December 2018 (hb)
  • 240 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509521104
  • Paperback $24.95
  • 9781509521111
  • Open eBook $24.95
  • 9781509521142
Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Problem of Fitting in and Standing Out

Part I: Philosophy of Money

2. The Price of Freedom

3. Money Matters and Personal Worth

4. The Lifestyles of Fast Capitalism

Part II: Sociology of Metropolises

5. Secrecy and Publicity in Mass Society

6. The Cosmopolitan Worldview and Urban Fashion

7. The Propertied and the Poor Person in the Big City

Part III: Cultures of Modernity

8. The Ruin and Renewal of Life

9. Adventures in Space and Time

10. The Tragedy of Individuality

About the Author
Thomas Kemple is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia
Show More


"This beautifully written guide brings into vivid microscopic focus the protean wholeness and diversity of Simmel’s magisterial thinking about money, economy, value, life, metropolitan existence and the fundamental conflicts of modern culture and society."
Austin Harrington, University of Leeds

"Social and cultural theorists have been waiting a long time for a book on Simmel like Tom Kemple’s.  He tackles what has often been characterised as a fragmented and labyrinthine oeuvre with admirable clarity.  Kemple not only situates Simmel’s writings in his life and times, but manages to reveal their freshness and contemporary relevance."
Mike Featherstone, Goldsmiths University

Show More