Comprehending Cults

Comprehending Cults : The Sociology of New Religious Movements

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Comprehending Cults, Second Edition, provides a sociological interpretation of the phenomenon of new religious movements. While the author does not offer an apologia for cults--in either a religious or a sociological sense--he does attempt to replace suspicion and misinformation with a greater knowledge of the facts (as best we know them) and a measure of sympathetic understanding.
Completely revised and updated in this second edition, the book examines all aspects of cults, while striving to delineate the very real limits of our knowledge. In addition to dealing with the troublesome aspects of the subject, including issues of violence, sexuality, and brainwashing, the author also considers the possibility that new religious movements are a source of spiritual satisfaction to their members. Offering up-to-date social science research about contemporary religious cults, Comprehending Cults, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate sociology of religion and new religious movements courses.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 153 x 230 x 15mm | 377g
  • Canada
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 0195420098
  • 9780195420098
  • 395,074

Table of contents

Chapter One: Why Study New Religious Movements?
The Cults in Our Midst
The Hostility Towards Cults
Box 1 They Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Responding to the Suspicions of the Public
Chapter Two: What Are New Religious Movements?
Religion and Its Continuing Significance
Churches, Sects, and Cults
Creating a Typology of Cults
Box 2 How New Religious Movements Change with Success
Chapter Three: Why Did New Religious Movements Emerge?
Asking the Right Question First
New Religious Movements as a Response to Cultural Change
Box 3 Three Models of Cult Formation
New Religious Movements as an Expression of Cultural Continuity
Concluding Remarks
Chapter Four: Who Joins New Religious Movements and Why?
The Stereotypes
Getting Involved with New Religious Movements
The Social Attributes of Those Who Join
Box 4 Why Are American Converts to New Religious Movements Disporportionately Jewish?
Some Reasons for Joining
Chapter Five: Are Converts to New Religious Movements 'Brainwashed'?
The Issue and Its Significance
The Case Against the Cults
The Case Against Brainwashing
Box 5 The Active Versus Passive Convert
Reformulating the Issues in the Brainwashing Debate
Chapter Six: Why Are New Religious Movements So Often Accused of Sexual Deviance?
Sexual Deviance and the Cults
Box 6 Child Abuse and the Social Control of NRMs
Gender Matters
Chapter Seven: Why Do Some New Religious Movements Become Violent?:
Responding to Recent 'Cult' Tragedies
Apocalyptic Beliefs
Charismatic Leadership
Social Encapsulation
Box 7 Surviving the Failure of Apocalyptic Prophecies
Concluding Remarks
Chapter Eight: What Is the Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements?
Our Skewed Perspective
Modernism and the New Religious Movements
Box 8 Factors Affecting the Success of NRMs
Postmodernism and the New Religious Movements
NRMs: Anti-modern, Modern, or Postmodern?
Concluding Remarks
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About Lorne L. Dawson

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