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Mabel Berezin

Subject Law
Sociology » Comparative and Historical Sociology, Government, Politics, and Law

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Fascism as a historical entity began in 1922 when Mussolini came to power in Italy. As a political ideology, fascism defines many of the movements that were present in post-World War I Europe from the British Union of Fascists to the Romanian Iron Guard. Fascism could have remained simply a characteristic of a group of historically specific political formations, but the term rather quickly developed a life of its own. Today, it serves as what Alexander (2003) has described as a bridging metaphor, that is, a term that one uses independently of historical or definitional context when confronted with acts of arbitrary violence or authoritarianism in political and, in some instances, social life. The entries in the 1931 and 1968 editions of the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences discuss fascism exclusively in terms of the regime in Italy. The authors make some effort to distinguish Italian Fascism from German National Socialism. The 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia omits fascism. Until the 1990s, scholars viewed fascism as a descriptor of events in post-World War I Europe or as an ideology with only historical interest. Precise conceptualization has eluded past, as well as current, exegeses of historical fascism. Attempts to theorize fascism have mined specific historical instances for generalities and yielded catalogs of characteristics. Even a cursory reading of this scholarship ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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