German scholarly works are often noted for their complicated and difficult, sometimes tortuous, prose. Part of the reason must be the long words that German academics resort to, as well as their penchant for the passive voice. The word in the title – Tatsachenentsubstantialisierung – is a recent example I have encountered.

I think I understand what it means, however that does not mean that I can adequately translate or explain. So the following is an attempt that others can surely improve on.

This word is used by the author to point out that post-war sociologists are no longer substantiating their theories on concrete, individual facts and examples. Tatsachenentsubstantialisierung thus describes this whole process in one word. Or, so I have rendered in my head. I may be quite wrong about this.

The original sentence reads: Diese historisch-ethnologische Tatsachenentsubstantialisierung der »großen« Soziologie (weniger der Bindstrich-Soziologien) wurde streckenweise ersetzt durch manieristische Begriffssoziologien verschiedener Spielarten und durch eine häufig konzeptionsschwache empiristische Soziologie, welche an die programmatischen Leistungen der Klassiker nicht heranreichten.

Georg W. Oesterdiekhoff, Zivilisation und Strukturgenese: Norbert Elias und Jean Piaget im Verlgeich (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000) p. 67

I am finding the book quite interesting to read, since Norbert Elias’s theory has been quite influential among historians who look at early modern Europe. However, whether I’m really grasping the essence of it is another matter.