If sociology is about society must it not also be about morality? In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the identification between sociology and morality was clear cut; Marx, Durkheim, Weber, Spencer, and Veblen all dealt with moral issues and one might argue that they saw themselves as engaged in a moral vocation. Now, one might argue that the connections between sociology and moral currents have become more tenuous. Moral Culture examines what it means to be moral in contemporary social and cultural life. Author Keith Tester takes the highly original and revealing step of exploring how violence today, and throughout history, affects the relatively safe and secure people who live in the west and who tend to know horror only through television and cinema screens. The book raises questions about the meaning and significance of massacres in the Balkans, Rwanda and, rather more historically, the Holocaust, and the slaughter of Vietnamese peasants by American soldiers in My Lai. It also discusses how Adolf Eichmann and the men of Charlie Company might be different from or similar to us. It answers questions about whether this is a time of moral decay or more seriously, the collapse of moral Civilization.
Sociologists often claim that they make a virtue of being relevant and objective, but few have attacked these issues with the urgency and originality that Keith Tester displays in this work. Each chapter provides a historically aware account of a moral problem making it especially relevant reading for students of cultural studies, sociology, political science, and moral philosophy.