How do ordinary men and women find themselves complacently or even passionately supporting mass murder? How can people transcend their immediate personal suffering yet succumb years later? How can society prevent such atrocities such as the Holocaust or the Spanish Inquisition from reoccurring? What causes people to willingly sacrifice their lives for a national or religious rationale? How can these things be measured empirically and studied? Author Fred Emil Katz discusses these questions and more in Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life.
The topic presented is complex. Immediacy: Our Ways of Coping in Everyday Life is a series of essays and articles written by the author during his distinguished career as a sociologist that have been compiled and updated. The book has 5 principal sections, each with an introduction that explains how these chapters relate to the idea of immediacy. I found these introductory chapters to be extremely helpful in my understanding of the material.
It may seem to some that society as a whole has evolved beyond the incidents discussed in this book, but has it? (List of genocides by death toll) A call for national unity in an effort to make the country great again which becomes the justification for national purging of undesired and unassimilated residents, never mind the cost to human lives, sounds eerily familiar. Although Katz has more questions than answers for us, at least he is presenting this topic for our consideration and if we were wise, we would ponder them carefully.
I especially found the chapter on societal denial to be eye-opening. Sometimes, humanity turns a blind eye. Sometimes we just can’t see.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The examples the author uses to illustrate each aspect of immediacy are well-known. He uses some unorthodox punctuation, dashes rather than commas or parentheses, but it did not detract from the overall readability of the text.
While I believe that the message is one that everyone should be made aware of, I’m not sure that everyone would benefit from reading this book. Its tone was scholarly even when discussing the fate of the author’s own parents and elder brother. Sociology as an applied science is still in its infancy. We just may not be able to think of our immediacies as something we can change.
This book was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day.