Chapter

Toward a Theory of Cultural Trauma

Jeffrey C. Alexander

in Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780520235946
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936768 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235946.003.0001
Toward a Theory of Cultural Trauma

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Traumas are purely happening which break a person or collective actor's sense of well-being. Cultural trauma is an experiential, scientific concept, signifying new meaningful and casual relationships linking earlier dissimilar events, structures, perceptions, and actions. In contrast to this, a new scientific concept enlightens an emerging field of social responsibility and political action. Cultural trauma transpires when the components of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to an awful event that leaves ineradicable marks upon their group awareness, marking their memories forever and changing their future individuality in basic and irreversible ways. In connection to the subject, cultural trauma, people have constantly used the language of trauma to explain what happened, not only to themselves, but also to the collectivities to which they belong.

Keywords: cultural trauma; collectivities; action; change; political action

Chapter.  11933 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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