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Antisemitism and the Constitution of Sociology

Marcel Stoetzler

Publication Year: 2014

Modern antisemitism and the modern discipline of sociology not only emerged in the same period, but—antagonism and hostility between the two discourses notwithstanding—also overlapped and complemented each other. Sociology emerged in a society where modernization was often perceived as destroying unity and “social cohesion.” Antisemitism was likewise a response to the modern age, offering in its vilifications of “the Jew” an explanation of society’s deficiencies and crises.
Antisemitism and the Constitution of Sociology is a collection of essays providing a comparative analysis of modern antisemitism and the rise of sociology. This volume addresses three key areas: the strong influence of writers of Jewish background and the rising tide of antisemitism on the formation of sociology; the role of antisemitism in the historical development of sociology through its treatment by leading figures in the field, such as Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Theodor W. Adorno; and the discipline’s development in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust. Together the essays provide a fresh perspective on the history of sociology and the role that antisemitism, Jews, fascism, and the Holocaust played in shaping modern social theory.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

...Most of the chapters collected in this volume have been developed from presentations at the conference Antisemitism and the Emergence of Sociological Theory that took place at the University of Manchester in November 2008. I am grateful to the Centre for Jewish Studies for hosting and partly financing this conference...

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pp. 1-42

...Thinking develops in the engagement with an object.1 However, although thinking is always about an issue, the concepts that are developed in the process do not necessarily name that object or issue. One of the principal issues that served as the catalysts around which European (or “Western”) modern social...


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1. Durkheim’s Sociology and French Antisemitism


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pp. 45-65

...“The fundamental ideas of European sociology,” Robert Nisbet has argued, “are best understood as responses to the problem of order created at the beginning of the nineteenth century by the collapse of the old regime” under the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution...

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2. Sociology’s Case for a Well- Tempered Modernity


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pp. 66-89

...In this chapter I begin by arguing that in the very text that constitutes one of the finest moments of classical sociology’s commitment and struggle for progressive, liberal society, Durkheim’s 1898 intervention in the Dreyfus affair, “Individualism and the Intellectuals,” ambivalences are operative that undermine this commitment and point...

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3. Fairness as an Impetus for Objective, Scientific Social Research Methods


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pp. 90-109

...This chapter deals with prejudices toward Jews among Germans in the mid- 1880s and how these prejudices induced early social and economic scientists to take steps to develop objective methods of empirical social research. These prejudices became manifest in an...

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4. Coldly Admiring the Jews


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pp. 110-134

...How did classical German sociology address the question of the nation and of ethnonational solidarities? It might be argued that the founders of German sociology— Weber, Simmel, Sombart, and Tönnies— institutionally also among the founders of the German Sociological Society, together with Robert Michels and Franz Oppenheimer...


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5. Rereading Marx on the “Jewish Question”


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pp. 137-159

...It is based in particular on a reading of the second of Marx’s two 1843 essays, “On the Jewish Question,” where he appears to link Judaism to huckstering and global financial power and to equate human emancipation with emancipation of society from Judaism. His representation of Jews is said to inherit...

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6. From Assimilationist Antiracism to Zionist Antiantisemitism


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pp. 160-182

...This essay delineates three responses to antisemitism by social scientists of Jewish descent: Georg Simmel (1858– 1918), one of the founders of academic sociology; Franz Boas (1858– 1942), the founder of American cultural anthropology; and Arthur Ruppin (1876– 1943), the founder of Jewish sociology and demography. Simmel...

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7. The Rise of Sociology, Antisemitism, and the Jewish Question: The American Case


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pp. 183-205

...Where and to what degree antisemitism existed, flourished, and even diminished in the United States between the 1890s and the 1960s is an important issue, but it is not one I want to pursue here directly. Nor am I interested in whether antisemitism has been worse or less bad than in Europe. Rather I want to explore the way...

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8. Civilization(s), Ethnoracism, Antisemitism, Sociology


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pp. 206-246

...In this chapter I undertake an interrogation of the principal uses of the concept of civilization. While this volume as a whole is primarily concerned with antisemitism and sociology, I attempt to frame this issue by consideration of a more encompassing theme, a theme in which I contend that the phenomenon of antisemitism...


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9. Talcott Parsons’s “The Sociology of Modern Anti- Semitis"


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pp. 249-273

...The Holocaust, he insists, is not just a remnant of barbarism; it was at the heart of modernity and the sociological processes that define it. Accepting this demands a rethinking of sociological theory, which his work undertakes. Bauman’s...

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10. The Irrationality of the Rational


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pp. 274-295

...Recent years have seen a major reassessment of the forced migration of the 1930s and 1940s to the United States with regard to the history of the sciences and humanities. Mitchell G. Ash aptly phrased this reappraisal a scientific innovation through forced migration. This was not a new concept. The social scientist Paul Lazarsfeld...

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11. Gino Germani, Argentine Sociology, and the Study of Antisemitis


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pp. 296-313

...Gino Germani is unanimously considered to be the founding father of modern Argentine sociology, even though the origins of the discipline in that country can be traced back to the beginning of the twentieth century. The objective of this chapter is to reflect upon the ways Germani approached the study of antisemitism...

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12. Antisemitism and the Power of Abstraction


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pp. 314-332

...The Nazi ideologue Arthur Rosenberg formulated the essence of modern antisemitism succinctly when he portrayed it as an attack on communism, Bolshevism, and “Jewish capitalism,” by which he and his fellow antisemites, then and now, understand a capitalism not of productive labor and industry but of parasites: money and finance...

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13. Conclusion


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pp. 333-342

...Everything begins in France: sociology and, hard to believe, antisemitism too. Auschwitz, the epitome of the National Socialist mass murder of European Jews between 1942 and 1945, has obstructed our perspective on the history of antisemitism. Only reflection in the mode of social theory can open it up again. Such reflection was pioneered...


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pp. 343-344


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pp. 345-379

E-ISBN-13: 9780803266704
E-ISBN-10: 0803266707
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803248649

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2014