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Speculating about society, analyzing the individual

Kauders, Anthony D.; Technische Universität Berlin, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung

Zentrum fĂĽr Antisemitismusforschung

The essay examines early and more recent psychoanalytic writings on the subject of antisemitism. It traces how critical theorists, then and now, have referred to the Freudian corpus in an effort to make sense of the phenomenon. In a final move, the essay argues that both the more traditional psychoanalytical understandings of Jew-hatred and the more sociologically inflected ones do not explain how the psychology that is invoked can disclose the social developments that are described. Much of the literature that purports to offer social psychological construals of antisemitism thus suffers from three related defects: it is neither social psychology properly applied to concrete historical contexts nor personality psychology systematically applied to society at large nor a combination of personality psychology and social psychology sensitive to the relative weight of personality and situation.