Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements / Edition 2

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This book summarizes, synthesizes, and assesses the results of thirty years of research into new religious movements by historians, sociologists, and psychologists of religion. Organized in terms of seven of the most commonly asked questions about cults (e.g., Why did they emerge? Who joins them and why? Why do some become violent?), the book clarifies the issues at stake, seeking to replace prejudice and speculation with reliable insights into the nature of cult activity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195420098
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/25/2006
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Why Study New Religious Movements?
The Cults in Our Midst
The Hostility towards Cults
Responding to the Suspicions of the Public
Box 1: They Come in All Shapes and Sizes
2. What Are New Religious Movements?
Religion and Its Continuing Significance
Churches, Sects, and Cults
Box 2: How New Religious Movements Change with Success
3. Why Did New Religious Movements Emerge?
Asking the Right Question First
New Religious Movements as a Response to Cultural Change
New Religious Movements as an Expression of Cultural Continuity
Concluding Remarks
Box 3: Three Models of Cult Formation
4. Who Joins New Religious Movements and Why?
The Stereotypes
Getting Involved with New Religious Movements
The Social Attributes of Those Who Join
Some Reasons for Joining
Box 4: Why are American Converts to New Religious Movements Disproportionately Jewish?
5. Are Converts to New Religious Movements "Brainwashed"?
The Issue and Its Significance
The Case Against the Cults
The Case Against Brainwashing
Reformulating the Issues in the Brainwashing Debate
Box 5: The Active versus Passive Convert
6. Why Are New Religious Movements So Often Accused of Sexual Deviance?
Sexual Deviance and the 'Cults'
Gender Matters
Box 6: Child Abuse and the Social Control of New Religious Movements
7. Why Do Some New Religious Movements Become Violent?
Making Sense of the Seemingly Senseless
Apocalyptic Beliefs
Charismatic Leadership
Social Encapsulation
Concluding Remarks
Box 7: Surviving the Failure of Apocalyptic Prophecies
8. What is the Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements?
Our Skewed Perspective
Discerning a New Religious Consciousness
Modernism and the New Religious Movements
Post-modernism and the New Religious Movements
Concluding Remarks
Box 8: Factors Affecting the Success of New Religious Movements

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