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Durham e-Theses
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Theories of fascism: a study of some interpretations of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany

Jensen-Butler, Brigit (1973) Theories of fascism: a study of some interpretations of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. Masters thesis, Durham University.



A selection of texts analysing the structural sources of the success of the NSDAP in Weimar Germany is reviewed critically. A general approach to the selected texts is implicit, and an attempt is made to develop a framework, essentially Weberian, for analysis of the success of the Nazi Party in Germany. Lipset’s analysis of the relation between the middle class and fascism is found insufficient to explain the success of the NSDAP and is discussed in the light of his own voting data evidence. A weberian analysis of the middle class relationships involved is tentatively developed. This is followed by a consideration of Kornhuser’s claims for the explanatory capacity of mass society theory. It is found that pluralist values are taken for granted, and mass analysis is not found to supersede class analysis, though it may be of value on the level of individual motivation. Parsons’ analysis, similar to Kornhauser’s of the consequences of fundamentalist reaction to social change, in conjunction with particular aspects of German social structure, is found to be conducted on the level of normative integration, basically not related to class conflict and capitalist development. Dahrendorf makes the contribution of Parsons historically more concrete in suggesting which classes were served by National Socialist ideology; he singles out the role and position of the state in German society, but fails to consider the general consequences of capitalist development. The force of Sweezy’s contribution is placing class conflict between the working class, industrialists, and the middle class in exactly this context. However, it is suggested that this theory of the relationship between state and society gives his argument of a situation of class equilibrium leading to eventual fascist takeover of the state, a certain deterministic tenor. Weber’s concept of Legitimacy, with respect to relationships of authority is introduced here. Thalhiemer’s model of a particular totality of class relationships, leading to the executive becoming independent of the bourgeoisie is found to need elaboration with respect to historical content, but points to the extra-capitalist sources of fascism. Finally a consideration of the contribution of ‘The Authoritarian Personality’ is attempted, though no clear assessment of the contribution of psychology to sociology in understanding social action is reached.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:40

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