Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements

Paperback | January 12, 2006

byLorne L. Dawson

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Tackling popular misconceptions about new religious movements, Comprehending Cults summarizes, synthesizes, and assesses over 40 years of research by historians, sociologists, and psychologists. This excellent introduction to the study of new religious groups offers a balanced treatment of newmovements as a source of spiritual satisfaction while confronting issues of violence, sexuality, and brainwashing within religious cults.

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Tackling popular misconceptions about new religious movements, Comprehending Cults summarizes, synthesizes, and assesses over 40 years of research by historians, sociologists, and psychologists. This excellent introduction to the study of new religious groups offers a balanced treatment of newmovements as a source of spiritual satisfac...

Lorne L. Dawson is a Professor of Sociology and Chair for the Department of Religious Studies, University of Waterloo.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:266 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.5 inPublished:January 12, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195420098

ISBN - 13:9780195420098

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsChapter One: Why Study New Religious Movements?The Cults in Our MidstThe Hostility Towards CultsBox 1 They Come in All Shapes and SizesResponding to the Suspicions of the PublicChapter Two: What Are New Religious Movements?Religion and Its Continuing SignificanceChurches, Sects, and CultsCreating a Typology of CultsBox 2 How New Religious Movements Change with SuccessChapter Three: Why Did New Religious Movements Emerge?Asking the Right Question FirstNew Religious Movements as a Response to Cultural ChangeBox 3 Three Models of Cult FormationNew Religious Movements as an Expression of Cultural ContinuityConcluding RemarksChapter Four: Who Joins New Religious Movements and Why?The StereotypesGetting Involved with New Religious MovementsThe Social Attributes of Those Who JoinBox 4 Why Are American Converts to New Religious Movements Disporportionately Jewish?Some Reasons for JoiningChapter Five: Are Converts to New Religious Movements 'Brainwashed'?The Issue and Its SignificanceThe Case Against the CultsThe Case Against BrainwashingBox 5 The Active Versus Passive ConvertReformulating the Issues in the Brainwashing DebateChapter Six: Why Are New Religious Movements So Often Accused of Sexual Deviance?Sexual Deviance and the CultsBox 6 Child Abuse and the Social Control of NRMsGender MattersChapter Seven: Why Do Some New Religious Movements Become Violent?. Responding to Recent 'Cult' TragediesApocalyptic BeliefsCharismatic LeadershipSocial EncapsulationBox 7 Surviving the Failure of Apocalyptic PropheciesConcluding RemarksChapter Eight: What Is the Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements?Our Skewed PerspectiveModernism and the New Religious MovementsBox 8 Factors Affecting the Success of NRMsPostmodernism and the New Religious MovementsNRMs: Anti-modern, Modern, or Postmodern?Concluding RemarksNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This book is undoubtedly the best introduction to New Religious Movements (NRMs) as sociological phenomena. Not only does Dawson have a gift for summarizing and evaluating the major theories, but, more importantly, he is able to provide structure and meaning to the ways in which weconceptualise the issues surrounding NRMs" -- Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso, McMaster University