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Remembering the HolocaustA Debate$
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Jeffrey C. Alexander

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195326222

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326222.001.0001

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The Social Construction of Moral Universals

The Social Construction of Moral Universals

(p.3) The Social Construction of Moral Universals
Remembering the Holocaust

Jeffrey C. Alexander

Oxford University Press

How did the Holocaust, an event marked by ethnic and racial hatred, violence, and war, become transformed into a generalized symbol of human suffering and moral evil, a universalized symbol whose very existence has created historically unprecedented opportunities for ethnic, racial, and religious justice? This cultural transformation has been achieved because the originating historical event, traumatic in the extreme for a delimited particular group—the Jews, has come over the last fifty years to be redefined as a traumatic event for all of humankind. This chapter explores the social creation of a cultural fact and the effects of this cultural fact on social and moral life. In the case of the Nazis' mass murder of the Jews, the decided increase in moral and social justice may eventually be the unintended result.

Keywords:   Holocaust, sociology, moral universal, racial hatred, moral suffering, Jews, German brutality, Nazi

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