Helmut Schoeck

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Helmut Schoeck (1922-1993) was an Austrian-German sociologist and writer, best known for his work "Envy. A Theory of Social Behaviour" (Der Neid. Eine Theorie der Gesellschaft).

Schoeck, born in Graz, spent his early years in Baden-Württemberg, finishing high school in Ludwigsburg. He then studied medicine, philosophy and psychology at the universities of Munich and Tubingen. With a dissertation on Karl Mannheim, Schoeck would obtain his doctorate under Eduard Spranger.

For fifteen years, starting in 1950, Schoeck would work as a professor at various U.S. universities. In 1953, he taught philosophy at Fairmont State College, followed by a two-year stint at Yale. At Emory University he was awarded a full professorship in sociology. During the 1950s, Schoeck published some works in German, and translated Joachim Wach's Sociology of Religion into German.

In 1965, Schoeck returned to Germany, where he obtained a chair in sociology at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, which he would occupy until his retirement in 1990.

Schoeck gained international fame with his book Der Neid. Eine Theorie der Gesellschaft (Envy. A Theory of Social Behaviour), which was published in 1966 (the English translation appeared in 1969). Written without a great deal of technical jargon, the book would receive widespread appreciation, even outside the academic community. The book became something of a best-seller, and was translated into more than ten languages.

A polemicist against the New Left movements of the 1960s, Schoeck citicized their ideas from a conservative-liberal viewpoint. The egalitarian and anti-capitalist mentality of the leftish generation was the especial target of Schoeck's attacks.

Schoeck, who was also a columnist of the Welt am Sonntag for twenty years, died of cancer in 1993.

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