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Social Darwinism in European and American Thought, 1860–1945

Social Darwinism in European and American Thought, 1860–1945
Nature as Model and Nature as Threat


  • Date Published: April 1997
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521574341

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About the Authors
  • This wide-ranging study focuses upon the controversies surrounding the meaning and significance of Social Darwinism. It clarifies the nature of Social Darwinism and its relationship to the ideas of Darwin, Lamarck and Herbert Spencer. After examining the development of Social Darwinist theories by a number of European and American thinkers, Mike Hawkins explores the use of these theories in a number of ideological debates and movements of the period 1860–1945. These include socio-political reform, national and racial conflict, eugenics, the position of women and Nazism/Fascism. The aim is to illuminate, through detailed comparative analyses, both the flexibility and the limits of Social Darwinism - limits which derive from the view of nature which lies at the very heart of Social Darwinism. The study concludes with a discussion of modern sociobiology in order to assess the continuing vitality of Social Darwinism.

    • Clarifies the meaning of Social Darwinism
    • Explores the range and limits of its ideological usages
    • Uses a lengthy historical period and an original, comparative focus on European and American thinkers
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Hawkins's important and ambitious book aims to show the profound adaptability of social Darwinism …' Contemporary European History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 1997
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521574341
    • length: 356 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Defining Social Darwinism: Introduction: the identity of Social Darwinism
    1. Defining Social Darwinism
    2. The distinctiveness of Social Darwinism
    Part II. Pioneers:
    3. The emergence of Social Darwinism
    4. Herbert Spencer and cosmic evolution
    5. Social Darwinism in the USA
    6. Social Darwinism in France and Germany
    Part III. Case Studies:
    7. Reform Darwinism
    8. Races, nations and the struggle for existence
    9. The eugenic conscience
    10. Social Darwinism, nature and sexual difference
    11. Nazism, Fascism and Social Darwinism
    Postscript: Social Darwinism old and new: the case of sociobiology

  • Author

    Mike Hawkins, Kingston University, Surrey

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