Sociology is always concerned with the causes and consequences of human suffering in one form or another, yet there is no sociology of suffering per se. This book is written with the understanding that if sociology fails to attend to what suffering does to people then it is left with a severely diminished account of human experience. Wilkinson maintains that a sociological response to suffering must confront the most unsettling questions of meaning and morality. He argues that the apparent 'senselessness' of suffering has the power to transform dramatically the ways we relate to society and ourselves. The book explores some of the ways in which our sensitivity towards this 'problem of suffering' is related to a new 'politics of compassion' in modern societies.
Powerful and timely, the book will have strong appeal to upper-level undergraduate students of sociology, anthropology, health, politics, and cultural studies, in addition to general readers concerned to understand one of the most pressing issues of our time.
1 Introduction: Suffering, Social Science and the Challenge to Sociology.
2 What is Suffering?
3 Our Classical Heritage.
4 Social Suffering: A Critical Appraisal.
5 The Problem of Suffering and our Feeling for Humanity.
6 Mediatized Suffering: Prospects for the Internationalisation of Conscience.
7 Towards a Critical Sociology of Suffering.