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War and Modernity. Studies in the History of Vilolence in the 20th Century

  • ID: 2250420
  • Book
  • December 2002
  • 256 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Written by one of Europe′s leading social theorists, this book takes up the claims of modernity and confronts them with a stark reality: the ongoing proliferation of war. How can contemporary social and political thought come to terms with this apparent failure of modernity? Throughout the 20th century the global struggle of ideologies put paid to the dream that wars were somehow the relic of a bygone, unenlightened age. But now in the aftermath of the Cold War era, how are we to account for the persistence of war and state violence?

Drawing on a wide range of material, from World War I and Vietnam to the Gulf War and the conflicts in the Balkans, Joas engages with current debates in the sociology and politics of war and develops his own distinctive line of argument concerning the role of warfare in modern societies. He aligns himself with figures such as Giddens and Mann in the attempt to establish a new and non–functionalist theory of social change.

This compelling and timely study confronts one of the great paradoxes of our era, and Joas′s book is a substantial contribution towards a new historico–sociological perspectiveon the twentieth century. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars of sociology and politics, and will appeal to anyone who has puzzled over the persistence of modern war, and the limits of enlightenment as an historical force.

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Preface vii

Introduction: Wars and Values 1

Part I The Modernity of War 27

1 The Dream of a Modernity without Violence 29

2 The Modernity of War: Modernization Theory and the Problem of Violence 43

3 Ideologies of War: The First World War as Reflected in the Contemporary Social Sciences 55

Part II After War 83

4 After the War: Democracy and Anti–Communism in Berlin after 1945 85

5 After the Cold War: The Collapse of the German Democratic Republic (with Martin Kohli) 95

6 Sprayed and Betrayed: The Experience of Violence in the Vietnam War and its Consequences 111

Part III War and Violence in Social Theory 123

7 Between Power Politics and Pacifist Utopia: Peace and War in Sociology Theory 125

8 Is There a Militarist Tradition in Sociology? 141

9 Sociology after Auschwitz: Zygmunt Bauman’s Work and the Problems of German Self–Understanding 163

10 War the Risk Society? 180

11 War the Teacher? 180

12 Action Theory and the Dynamics of Violence 187

Notes 197

Bibliography 225

Name Index 242

Subject Index 246

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‘Though war remains central to society, it has been peripheral to recent sociological theory. Hans Joas helps remedy that with penetrating critiques of Marxian, realist and, especially, liberal views of war.’
Michael Mann, University of California

War and Modernity is a path–breaking book which explores in a very incisive way a subject which has not been systematically addressed in the social sciences, namely the relations between war and modernity. Contrary to the optimistic views which see war as a survival of “primitive” urges, Joas shows convincingly how war constitutes a basic component of modernity. The book is a distinct contribution.” S.N. Eisenstadt, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

"...International Relations scholars should find the analysis of some familiar issues from a different angle illuminating, and they will find some important discussions and reconstructions of social thought in the context of war...much of value to be found in this volume" Bryan Mabee

"A valuable contribution to the reflection of sociology on war and violence." American Journal of Sociology

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