Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults / Edition 1

Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults / Edition 1

by Janja A. Lalich
     
 

ISBN-10: 0520240189

ISBN-13: 9780520240186

Pub. Date: 09/15/2004

Publisher: University of California Press

Heaven's Gate, a secretive group of celibate "monks" awaiting pickup by a UFO, captured intense public attention in 1997 when its members committed collective suicide. As a way of understanding such perplexing events, many have come to see those who join such cults as needy, lost souls, unable to think for themselves. This book, a compelling look at the cult…  See more details below

Overview

Heaven's Gate, a secretive group of celibate "monks" awaiting pickup by a UFO, captured intense public attention in 1997 when its members committed collective suicide. As a way of understanding such perplexing events, many have come to see those who join such cults as needy, lost souls, unable to think for themselves. This book, a compelling look at the cult phenomenon written for a wide audience, dispels such simple formulations by explaining how normal, intelligent people can give up years of their lives -- and sometimes their very lives -- to groups and beliefs that appear bizarre and irrational. Looking closely at Heaven's Gate and at the Democratic Workers Party, a radical political group of the 1970s and 1980s, Janja Lalich gives us a rare insider's look at these two cults and advances a new theoretical framework that will reshape our understanding of those who join such groups.

Lalich's fascinating discussion includes her in-depth interviews with cult devotees as well as reflections gained from her own experience as a high-ranking member of the Democratic Workers Party. Incorporating classical sociological concepts such as "charisma" and "commitment" with more recent work on the social psychology of influence and control, she develops a new approach for understanding how charismatic cult leaders are able to dominate their devotees. She shows how members are led into a state of "bounded choice," in which they make seemingly irrational decisions within a context that makes perfect sense to them and is, in fact, consistent with their highest aspirations. In addition to illuminating the cult phenomenon in the United States and around the world, this important book also addresses our pressing need to know more about the mentality of those true believers who take extreme or violent measures in the name of a cause.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520240186
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
09/15/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
353
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents

1Introduction : cults and true believers1
2Gurus, seers, and new agers25
3The beginning : "the two" arrive42
4Evolution of the charismatic community63
5Denouement91
6Revolutionaries, rebels, and activists113
7The founding of the democratic workers party126
8The cadre formation149
9Decline and fall193
10The true believer : the fusion of personal freedom and self-renunciation221
11Bounded choice : cult formation and the development of the true believer247

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