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Religious movements: cult and anticult since Jonestown

Barker, Eileen ORCID: 0000-0001-5247-7204 (1986) Religious movements: cult and anticult since Jonestown. Annual Review of Sociology, 12. 329 - 346. ISSN 0360-0572

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The article contains an overview of theoretical and empirical work carried out by sociologists of religion in the study of new religious movements and the anticult movement since 1978; it pays special attention to the aftereffects of the mass suicide/murder of followers of Jim Jones in Guyana. The different theories as to why people join the movement are discussed--whether they are `brainwashed,' what influences (pushes and/or pulls) the wider society has on the membership. Mention is made of the role of sociologists themselves as witnesses in court cases and as participant observers at conferences organized by the movements. Bibliographic details are supplied of writings about particular movements, in particular countries, and concerning particular problems (finances, family life, legal issues, conversion, `deprogramming,' etc) It is suggested that the differences between the movements are considerably greater than is often recognized and that there is a need for further comparative research and more refined classificatory systems before our theoretical knowledge can develop and be tested satisfactorily. Various changes (such as the demographic variables of an aging membership, the death of charismatic leaders, and the socialization of second-generation membership; changing relationships with the `host' society; and the growth--or demise--of the movements) provide much more of interest for the sociologist to study in the future.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1986 Annual Reviews Inc.
Divisions: Sociology
LSE Human Rights
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2013 10:13
Last Modified: 15 May 2024 23:29

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