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October 2021

Culture and charisma: Outline of a theory

Journal/Book: Acta Sociol. 2000; 43: Cort Adelersgt 17 PO Box 2562, Solli, 0202 Oslo, Norway. Taylor & Francis As. 101-111.

Abstract: From the work of Weber onwards charisma has been primarily explained in terms of its relationship to underlying social structural and psychological environments. The paper redresses this imbalance and examines the cultural structures that operate as preconditions for the attribution of charisma to political and religious leaders. Drawing on Weberian, Durkheimian and semiotic theory the paper argues that charisma arises in conjunction with salvation narratives. The internal structure of these narratives requires binary oppositions contrasting good and evil. The model is exemplified with reference to case studies of Hitler, Churchill and Martin Luther King.

Note: Article Smith P, Univ Queensland, Dept Anthropol & Sociol, St Lucia, Qld 4067, AUSTRALIA

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