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Social Aspects of Envy As all emotions envy is socially constructed Individual interaction class variation and social institutions like schools family religion and politics define envy for us Envy is dependent on the beliefs about wealth status power and how they ought to be distributed In less complex societies envious objects are food babies and health but in more complex societies they are wealth status and power Envy which is often mislabeled as jealousy is hostility towards superiors In an unequal situation or comparison the envious has not a mere wish but a malicious wish that the other would lose his advantage Foster 1972167 Though condemned in all cultures and repressed in nearly every individual envy has a function in society Schoeck points out that envy is almost a taboo-topic in daily conversation in research and in literature This condemning and repression is what allows envy to work Envy in excess of that minimum is a surplus which can do more harm than good Schoeck 1970348 In societies where envy is high productivity is low and where envy is low productivity is high Envy is our drive for innovation and competition though if not controlled causes poverty and revolutions Management of envy is key to social order In order to minimize envy we must always rationalize our inequalities through modest statements such as Luck Gods will and hard work which date back through the history of the Greeks Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Work Ethic Although possibly the rich are wealth addicts thriving on the envy of others and the rest are all closet addicts fooled into believing that they will one day be rich too Slater 198016 BIBLIOGRAPHY Foster George The Anatomy of Envy A Study in Symbolic Behavior 1972 Current Anthropology 132 April Shoeck Helmut 1970 Envy A Theory of Social Behavior New York Harcourt Brace World Slater Philip 1980
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