The Cultivation of Resentment

Jeffrey R. Dudas

Published by Stanford University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780804758093
Published online June 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780804779654 | DOI:
The Cultivation of Resentment

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This is an examination of how grassroots conservative activists use rights discourse to pursue their political goals. It argues that conservative activists engage in frequent and sincere mobilizations of rights talk—a discourse that includes accusations that socially marginal Americans are seeking un-American, “special” rights that violate the nation's commitment to equal rights. The book finds that such rights talk is central both to the identities of conservative activists and to the broad appeal of modern New Right politics. However, through an in-depth case study of opposition on the Indian treaty rights, it establishes that the impact of conservative rights talk is ultimately ambiguous. While conservative rights discourse effectively expresses the nationalistic resentment that saturates New Right politics, it deflects critical scrutiny from the actual causes of that resentment. By tracing the interplay of rights and resentment, this book adds new insight to the prevailing scholarship on law and politics, which typically overlooks the importance of rights discourse for conservative politics.

Keywords: conservative activists; rights talk; socially marginal Americans; equal rights; New Right politics; Indian treaty rights; nationalistic resentment; conservative politics; law; rights discourse

Book.  224 pages. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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