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EnvyTheory and Research$
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Richard Smith

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327953.001.0001

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Envy, Inferiority, and Injustice: Three Bases of Anger About Inequality

Envy, Inferiority, and Injustice: Three Bases of Anger About Inequality

(p.94) 6 Envy, Inferiority, and Injustice: Three Bases of Anger About Inequality

Colin Wayne Leach

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the relationship between anger about inequality based in envy and that based in inferiority (domain or global) or injustice. To make this possible, envy must be conceptualized in a more narrow way than in most previous treatments. The first section argues that envy is best conceptualized as anger resulting from a frustrated desire for a fortune that is possessed by another party but is perceived as possible for oneself (and thus is something one feels one deserves). The second and third sections suggest that inferiority (domain or global) and perceived injustice may serve as conceptually independent bases of anger about inequality. Although inferiority-based anger and justice-based anger may co-occur with envy, become blended with envy, or be displaced or dissembled expressions of hidden envy, anger based in (domain or global) inferiority or injustice should be distinguished from that based in envy. In essence, the chapter echoes others in arguing that to understand the association between envy and a sense of injustice, envy cannot be conceptualized in a way that necessarily includes a sense of injustice or perceived inferiority.

Keywords:   anger, inequality, envy, inferiority, injustice

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