Values and emotionality in Greek political culture: a study of ressentiment

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  • 1 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and National Centre for Social Research, , Greece
  • | 2 National Centre for Social Research, , Greece
  • | 3 University of Birmingham, , UK
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In this article, we provide a theoretical discussion of ressentiment within the emerging fields of the political sociology and political psychology of emotions and offer an empirical investigation of its political-cultural function. The complex emotion of ressentiment refers to a recurrent rumination on negative feelings and an affective compensation for life failures. Extant studies show ressentiment can be linked to electoral support for populist, anti-immigration and far-right parties, and can provide leverage for major sociopolitical upheavals. Using the World Values Survey 7th wave dataset for Greece we analyse the psychological components and political expressions of ressentiment testing three hypotheses on its relationship with efficacy and life satisfaction, value systems and political violence. The analysis is possible due to an original six-item ressentiment scale that we offer as a novel measure of this emotional phenomenon. We find a limited distribution of ressentiment in Greece concentrated among economically and socially disadvantaged segments of society. We also find that ressentiment scores link monotonically with overall life dissatisfaction and diminished political interest, lack of efficacy, low interpersonal trust and aversion for sociocentric and emancipative values. Traces of dormant support for violence are evident in responses about violence against others where ressentiment-ful participants score higher compared with their less ressentiment-ful counterparts. We discuss the implications of our findings for the quality of democracy, authoritarian populism and nationalism.

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  • 1 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and National Centre for Social Research, , Greece
  • | 2 National Centre for Social Research, , Greece
  • | 3 University of Birmingham, , UK

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