A detailed and richly illustrated analysis of charisma and the political and cultural conditions in which charismatic figures arise, this work of historical sociology critically engages with Max Weber’s ambiguous concept of charisma to examine the charismatic careers of a number of figures, including Joan of Arc, Hitler and Nelson Mandela, as well as that of Jesus, who, the author contends - in contradistinction to Max Weber - was not a charismatic leader, in spite of his portrayal in Christian theology. Shedding light on the process of charismatic transformation as it occurs within intensely solidaristic groups and the importance of patronage in charismatic careers, the book distinguishes between charismatic rule and charismatic leadership. With close attention to the social and political legacy of charisma for modern capitalism, it also examines the emergence of a global class of the super-rich, a process buttressed by a belief on the part of business leaders in their own charismatic powers. A rigorous examination of the under-researched political process of charisma, the understanding of which remains as important in modern society as in history, Charisma and Patronage will appeal to students and scholars across a range of disciplines, including sociology, history, politics and social geography.
Andrew D. McCulloch is Visiting Senior Fellow in Research and Social Theory at the University of Lincoln, UK.