Attempting to provide a sociological explanation of the Holocaust, the main theme of this work is the demonstration that the Holocaust has to be understood as deeply involved with the nature of modernity - neither a single event nor a simple outpouring of barbarism. The author discusses what sociology can teach us about the Holocaust, but more particularly concentrates upon the lesson which the Holocaust has for sociology. There are two ways, he points out, in which the significance of the Holocaust can be side-stepped in our understanding of modernity. One way is to present the Holocaust as something which happened to the Jews, as an event in Jewish history. A second way is to regard the Holocaust as representing loathsome aspects of social life which the progress of modernity will increasingly overcome. Neither of these views stand up to scrutiny, according to the author.
Sociology after the Holocaust; modernity, racism, extermination - 1 - II; on the uniqueness and normality of the Holocaust; soliciting cooperation of the victims; the ethics of obedience (reading Milgram); towards sociological theory of morality; rationality and shame (an afterthought).