A term devised during the Second World War by Raphael Lemkin and adopted by the United Nations Convention in 1948. Sociologists have been most concerned with five matters: how todefine the term; its typological manifestations; the conditions which give rise to genocide; a historical analysis of it; and the consequences of genocide, not just for the victims, but also for the perpetrators.(The best general discussion is F. Chalk and K. Jonassohn's The History and Sociology of Genocide, 1989.)
There are many controversies around what constitutes a genocide, Should the witchcraft purges throughout Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries be seen as genocide? The bombing of Hiroshima could also be included, if one is concerned with all forms of ‘death on a large scale’, but this was an (almost) unique and distinct form. Irving Horowitz (in Taking Lives: Genocide and State Power, 1980) defines genocide as the ‘structural and systematic destruction of innocent people by a state bureaucratic apparatus’. Genocide usually entails an outgroup or pariah group being defined as less than fully human, and the existence of a centralized bureaucratic authority capable of administering the deaths in a large-scale and impersonal way. In the past this has often meant the slaughtering of whole populations in war or the sacrifice of large groups for religious purposes (for example in Carthage, where the younger sons were sacrificed to the Gods). Often, in earlier periods, the consequences for the perpetrators of such large-scale murders were minimal.
Some have suggested that the conditions for genocide coincide with the conditions of modernity, and indeed that the twentieth century-far from being a century of progress-has been decisively the age of genocide. The Nazi Holocaust, Stalin's purges, and the ‘Year Zero’ or ‘killing fields’ activities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia are frequently cited as instances of modern ‘ideological’ genocide. In a celebrated study of the Holocaust (Modernity and the Holocaust, 1990), Zygmunt Bauman has argued that the Nazi mass exterminations were symptomatic of the dark side of modernity, of conditions ripe for large-scale bureaucracies, mass technology, and ideological control. This may be overstated: there have certainly been many other cases of genocide throughout history.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • genocide — geno·cide / je nə ˌsīd/ n: acts committed with intent to partially or wholly destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group; also: the crime of committing such an act Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. genocide …   Law dictionary

  • genocide — gen o*cide n. The systematic killing of a racial or cultural group; as, the Nazi genocide of Jews left few in Germany or Poland after World War II. Syn: race murder, racial extermination. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • genocide — 1944, apparently coined by Polish born U.S. jurist Raphael Lemkin (1900 1959) in his work Axis Rule in Occupied Europe [p.19], in reference to Nazi extermination of Jews, lit. killing a tribe, from Gk. genos race, kind (see GENUS (Cf. genus)) +… …   Etymology dictionary

  • genocide — [n] mass extermination annihilation, carnage, decimation, ethnic cleansing, holocaust, massacre, mass execution, mass murder, race extermination, slaughter; concept 252 …   New thesaurus

  • genocide — ► NOUN ▪ the deliberate killing of a very large number of people from a particular ethnic group or nation. DERIVATIVES genocidal adjective. ORIGIN from Greek genos race + CIDE(Cf. ↑ cide) …   English terms dictionary

  • genocide — [jen′ə sīd΄] n. [< Gr genos, race, kind (see GENUS) + CIDE: first applied to the attempted extermination of the Jews by Nazi Germany] the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy, a whole national or ethnic group… …   English World dictionary

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