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Sociology is concerned with modern society, but has never come toterms with one of the most distinctive and horrific aspects ofmodernity - the Holocaust.

The book examines what sociology can teach us about the Holocaust,but more particularly concentrates upon the lessons which theHolocaust has for sociology. Bauman's work demonstrates that theHolocaust has to be understood as deeply involved with the natureof modernity. There is nothing comparable to this work available inthe sociological literature.
Published: Wiley on
ISBN: 9780745638096
List price: $29.95
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"Even so, the Holocaust was not simply a Jewish problem, and not an event in Jewish history alone. The Holocaust was born and executed in our modern rational society, at the high stage of our civilization and at the peak of human cultural achievement, and for this reason it is a problem of that society." (Bauman 2001, p. X)In situating the Holocaust not only within modernity, but as a historical fact of that modernity, one surely has to feel compelled by that past presence of murder and cruelty, which stands in the intermediaries to the rise of post-modern culture in Europe. Bauman takes further steps in assimilating the lessons of the events of the Holocaust in the mainstream of the theory of modernity and of the civilizing process and its effects. By showing, how social rationalization and the development of cold bureaucracies and inhuman administration has led to these somehow unbelievable events, Bauman steps into the path, which was once pursued by Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno. He is not, however, tempted to construe once again the irrational monsters of the Nazi-thugs, but takes his stance in simply knowing that the ones responsible for these cruel deeds were mostly - even if cold-blooded - very normal, and seemingly moral people.Morality is, for Bauman, a pre-social feeling, rather than something which is produced within societal development itself; once considering the effects of modern social engineering, one cannot but assume that it is society itself which represses moral feelings. With the growing distance between the actor in this society and the effects of his actions, which he sometimes doesn't even recognize, morality gets more and more useless and finally vanishes.Bauman's book about the embedment of the Holocaust in modernity is a well reflected plea for the moral issues that nowadays are at stake: humanity and freedom. He finishes his book:"This is by far the most important lesson of the Holocaust which needs to be learned and remembered. If Orwell is right that control of the past allows control of the future, it is imperative, for the sake of that future, that those who control the present are not allowed to manipulate the past in a fashion likely to render the future inhospitable to humanity and uninhabitable." (p. 250)more

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"Even so, the Holocaust was not simply a Jewish problem, and not an event in Jewish history alone. The Holocaust was born and executed in our modern rational society, at the high stage of our civilization and at the peak of human cultural achievement, and for this reason it is a problem of that society." (Bauman 2001, p. X)In situating the Holocaust not only within modernity, but as a historical fact of that modernity, one surely has to feel compelled by that past presence of murder and cruelty, which stands in the intermediaries to the rise of post-modern culture in Europe. Bauman takes further steps in assimilating the lessons of the events of the Holocaust in the mainstream of the theory of modernity and of the civilizing process and its effects. By showing, how social rationalization and the development of cold bureaucracies and inhuman administration has led to these somehow unbelievable events, Bauman steps into the path, which was once pursued by Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno. He is not, however, tempted to construe once again the irrational monsters of the Nazi-thugs, but takes his stance in simply knowing that the ones responsible for these cruel deeds were mostly - even if cold-blooded - very normal, and seemingly moral people.Morality is, for Bauman, a pre-social feeling, rather than something which is produced within societal development itself; once considering the effects of modern social engineering, one cannot but assume that it is society itself which represses moral feelings. With the growing distance between the actor in this society and the effects of his actions, which he sometimes doesn't even recognize, morality gets more and more useless and finally vanishes.Bauman's book about the embedment of the Holocaust in modernity is a well reflected plea for the moral issues that nowadays are at stake: humanity and freedom. He finishes his book:"This is by far the most important lesson of the Holocaust which needs to be learned and remembered. If Orwell is right that control of the past allows control of the future, it is imperative, for the sake of that future, that those who control the present are not allowed to manipulate the past in a fashion likely to render the future inhospitable to humanity and uninhabitable." (p. 250)more
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