When looking back at sociology the shift from traditional to modern societies has been a major concern of studies, ending up with many dualistic theories of social forms and sociality. Social theories of today, are though formulating a supposedly second societal shift and a third form of sociality. With this experience of a new shift, it is fair to argue that dualistic theories need to be challenged or developed if we are not to have only two alternative social forms to shift between. As early as 1922 the German phenomenologist and sociologist Herman Schmalenbach published a critique and development of Ferdinand Tönnies’ dualistic distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Schmalenbach introduces a third social category which he calls Bund (Communion) and is based on a sociality of emotions and free choice. With a triadic rather than a dualistic theory of possible ways to relate to others one of the main implications of Schmalenbach’s critique is that the relation between the forms of sociality can not be understood as being each other’s antitheses.
In Schmalenbach’s idea of the Communion, friendship and romantic love are the ideal typical social forms. In this respect his idea shows similarities to the late modern theories of sociality. In an attempt to better understand contemporary sociality I will provide a reading of Tönnies focusing on the sociality in his theory, which I call a relational reading of him. This reading is conducted by comparing Tönnies to some other dualistic theories of sociality to explicate how similar dualities are formulated in various researchers’ vocabularies. Following this I present a reading of Schmalenbach’s critique of Tönnies’ theory. At the end of the paper I suggest some implications of Schmalenbach’s critique in relation to late modern theories of contemporary sociality and contemporary relations, as well as to ideas of stage theories of society.