Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The holocaust and sociological inquiry: a feminist analysis

  • 81 Accesses

  • 3 Citations


The insights of feminist theory and methodology are used to explore ways in which some of the limitations of sociological study of the Holocaust might be overcome. It is argued that if feminist insights about limitations of sociological inquiry in general and of women, in particular, are made explicit it will be possible to study the Holocaust as other than solely a part of Jewish History and to move its study beyond a specialized niche within academia.

The first section explores some of the explanations for the dearth of sociological inquiry about the Holocaust. The second borrows from feminist epistemological critiques of science to suggest how some of the current obstacles to the sociological study of the Holocaust might be overcome. The third section addresses the ways in which a gender analysis of the Holocaust leads to new ways of asking old questions. Version of paper given at annual meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston, December 1995.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Applefeld, Aharon. 1994a.Beyond Despair. (translated by Jeffrey Green) New York: Fromm International.

  2. ——. 1994b.Unto the Soul. (translated by Jeffrey Green) New York: Random House.

  3. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1992.Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  4. Bordo, Susan. 1986. “The Cartesian Masculinization of Thought.”Signs 11: 247–264.

  5. Code, Lorraine. 1988. “Experience, Knowledge, and Responsibility.” Pp. 187–204 inFeminist Perspectives in Philosophy edited by Mor-wenna Griffiths and Margaret Whitford. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

  6. Epstein, Cynthia. 1970.Woman’s Place. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  7. Fein, Helen. 1979Accounting for Genocide. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

  8. Gerhardt, Uta. 1993.Talcott Parsons’ on National Socialism. New York Aldine De Gruyter.

  9. Gilligan, Carol. 1983.In a Different Voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  10. Goldenberg, Myrna. 1990. “Different Horrors, Same Hell: Women Remembering the Holocaust.” Pp. 150–166 inThinking about the Unthinkable: Meanings of the Holocaust, edited by Roger S. Gottlieb. New York: Paulist.

  11. Kaufman, Debra. 1990. “Engendering Family Theory: Toward a Feminist-Interpretive Framework.” Pp. 107–135 inFashioning Family Theory, edited by Jetse Sprey. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

  12. ——. 1993.Rachel’s Daughters. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

  13. Langer, Lawrence. 1982.Versions of Survival: The Holocaust and the Human Spirit. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

  14. Lipstadt, Deborah E. 1994.Denying the Holocaust. New York: The Free Press.

  15. Martin, Jane Roland. 1988. “Science in a Different Style.”American Philosophical Quarterly 25: 129–140.

  16. McCluskey, Martha T. 1994. “Transforming Victimization.”Tikkun 9: 54–56.

  17. Porter, Jack Nusan. 1993. “The Holocaust as a Sociological Construct.”Contemporary Jewry 14: 184–187.

  18. Nicholson, Linda. 1990.Feminism/Postmodernism. New York: Routledge.

  19. Prosono, Marvin. 1994. “Toward a Sociology and a Science of the Holocaust: A Symbolic Interactionist/Pragmatist Commentary on Holocaust Denial and Anti-Denial.” Meetings, American Sociological Association, Los Angeles.

  20. Reinharz, Shulamit. 1992.Feminist Methods in Social Research. New York: Oxford University Press.

  21. Ringelheim, Joan 1993. “Women and the Holocaust: A Reconsideration of Research.” Pp. 373–419 inDifferent Voices, edited by Carol Rittner and John K. Roth. New York: Paragon House.

  22. -. 1995. “Genocide and Gender: A Split Memory.” (Forthcoming).

  23. Rittner, Carol and John K. Roth (eds.) 1993.Different Voices. New York: Paragon House.

  24. Smith Dorothy. 1974. “Women’s Perspective as a Radical Critique of Sociology.”Sociological Inquiry 44: 7–13.

  25. Smith, Michael. 1994. “Enhancing me Quality of Survey Data on Vio-lence against Women: A Feminist Approach.”Gender and Society 8: 109–127.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Debra Renee Kaufman.

Additional information

Version of paper given at annual meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston, December 1995

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kaufman, D.R. The holocaust and sociological inquiry: a feminist analysis. Cont Jewry 17, 6 (1996).

Download citation


  • Feminist Theory
  • Sociological Inquiry
  • Instrumental Rationality
  • Sociological Study
  • Contemporary JEWRY