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This article considers three aspects of the sociology of resentment. Firstly I describe Nietzsche’s relationship to Max Weber. Secondly this article outlines Weber’s account of resentment as the driving force behind religious beliefs as a theodicy, specifically an ideology of disprivileged social groups. Whereas the dominant class seeks legitimacy for its position in society, disprivileged groups seek compensation. While the dominant pity such subordinate groups, the disprivileged resent their superiors. Thirdly, the article concludes with a preliminary elaboration of a theory of social status, competitive relationships and resentment. The hypothesis is that in modern societies the fluidity of social structures, the apparent absence of any clear relationship between success and worth, and the propinquity and visibility of competitive social groups have an inflationary effect on resentment. This hypothesis leads to a question that is largely beyond the scope of this discussion about the conditions under which individualized resentment evolves into collective rage. These developments are briefly sketched out by reference to the credit crisis, the Moral Majority and Tea Party populism in the United States.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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