Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Publication Date: 
March 2004
University of Califoirnia Press

Bernard Giesen
Neil J. Smelser
Piotr Sztompka

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In this collaboratively authored work, five distinguished sociologists develop an ambitious theoretical model of “cultural trauma”—and on this basis build a new understanding of how social groups interact with emotion to create new and binding understandings of social responsibility. Looking at the “meaning making process” as an open-ended social dialogue in which strikingly different social narratives vie for influence, they outline a strongly constructivist approach to trauma and apply this theoretical model in a series of extensive case studies, including the Nazi Holocaust, slavery in the United States, and September 11, 2001.