Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Jeffrey C. Alexander

in The Meanings of Social Life

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195160840
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199944156 | DOI:
Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

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This chapter examines the relation between cultural trauma and collective identity. It explains that cultural trauma occurs when members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks on their group consciousness, and that the scientific concept of cultural trauma illuminates an emerging domain of social responsibility and political action. It discusses a middle-range theory of the complex causes propelling the trauma process in developed and less-developed societies. It argues that the theory of cultural trauma applies, without prejudice, to any and all instances when societies have, or have not, constructed and experienced cultural traumatic events, and to their efforts to draw, or not to draw, the moral lessons that can be said to emanate from them.

Keywords: cultural trauma; collective identity; group consciousness; social responsibility; political action; traumatic events; moral lessons

Chapter.  10171 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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