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The problem of suffering as a driving force of rationalization and social change

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(Corresponding author email: i.m.wilkinson@kent.ac.uk)

Abstract

This article documents and analyses a reconstructed Weberian conception of the problem of suffering. In this setting a focus is brought to how the problem of suffering is constituted in the dynamic interplay between, on the one hand, the compulsion to impose rational sense and order on the world, and on the other, the necessity to find a means to satiate charismatic needs. The discussion highlights Weber's account of the tendency for problems of suffering to increase in volume and scale along with the intensification and spread of modern processes of rationalization. It offers a case for the development of further sociological inquiries into the role played by experiences of the problem of suffering within the dynamics of social and cultural change.

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