This innovative book provides a clear and thoughtful discussion of a central theme of our times: human suffering. The book is written with the understanding that where sociology fails to attend to what suffering does to people, then it is left with a severely diminished account of human experience. It explores some of the ways in which research into social suffering might lead us to reinterpret the meaning of modern history as well as revise our outlook upon the possible futures that await us. It inquires into the sociocultural dimensions of pain and how these may be related to our capacity to feel for the suffering of others. Wilkinson maintains that a sociological response to human suffering requires us to amplify unsettling questions of meaning and morality so that the apparent senselessness of experiences of injustice, violence and oppression is brought to social attention. He urges us to consider the potential for our sensitivity towards 'the problem of suffering' to serve as a force of cultural innovation and as part of the dynamics of social change.
This book will be compelling reading for all students of sociology and the social sciences, as well as for anyone who would like to understand what suffering does to people, and the repercussions for political and moral debate in contemporary society.
Table of Contents
Chapter one - Introduction - Suffering Social Science and the Challenge to Sociology
Chapter two - What is Suffering?
Chapter three - Our Classic Heritage
Chapter four - 'Social Suffering': A Critical Appraisal
Chapter five - The Problem of Suffering and our Feeling for Humanity
Chapter Six - Mediatized Suffering: Prospects for the Internationalisation of Conscience
Chapter Seven - Towards a Critical Sociology of Suffering