Sociology, Racism and Modernity

  • Simon Clarke


What is the relationship, if any, between modernity and racism? Has sociology reached its limits in the explanation of racism and ethnic hatred? How can we bridge the gap between sociological theory and psychoanalysis? These are some of the questions which I address in this chapter. The Holocaust represents the culmination of race science, of eugenics and of social engineering. It is almost unthinkable to talk of inferior or superior ‘races’ after the terror and evil of Nazi Germany, so what has replaced the concept of ‘race’. Academically, we have seen the adoption of ethnicity and new ethnicities, but is there a post-race other? I suggest in this chapter that Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of the stranger provides us with a sociological model, a psycho-social character that bridges the gap between sociological analysis and psychoanalytic theory. In other words, we have notions of both social structure, that is the nation-state, bureaucracies and technologies of modernity, and some recognition of the role of our imagination and of our ‘inner’ world encapsulated in this model.


Social Theory Jewish Community Social Engineering Psychoanalytic Theory Hippocratic Oath 
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© Simon Clarke 2003

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  • Simon Clarke

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