Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought
by Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominent European and American social thinkers emphasized different features of modern society and disagreed about whether Jews were synonymous with or antithetical to those features, but they turned repeatedly to the Jews as a touchstone for defining modernity and national identity in a context of rapid social change. This history extends into the present with the Jews—and now the Jewish state—continuing to serve as an intermediary for self-reflection in the twenty-first century.
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