Sociology and Genocide

Martin Shaw

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Sociology and Genocide

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  • History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • Social and Cultural History


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This article describes genocide as a crime of social classification, in which power-holders target particular populations for social and often physical destruction. Genocide can be described as a peculiarly sociological crime, in which the activity of social classification is perverted by pseudoscience. This articles argues argued that sociology can make central contributions to genocide studies. As a generalizing, concept-forming discipline it can help clarify the still-contested meaning of genocide and clarify some of its theoretical difficulties. Through historical-sociological work it can contribute to the comparative study of genocides. So far its contributions have been modest, but some important work has begun to overcome the sharply critical judgements of the discipline made by Zygmunt Bauman and others two decades ago.

Keywords: genocide studies; social classification; sociological crime; racial studies; Zygmunt Bauman

Article.  8897 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; Social and Cultural History

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