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May 2, 2018 / C H Thompson

Why turn to New Age, Sects, Cults and New Religious Movements?

There two dominant reasons why people turn to cults, sects, new age and new religious movements – social marginality and status frustration:

Social Marginality

  • Weber -> these are people that are pushed to the edges/or margins of society
  • Those on the margins of society are most likely to join sects.
  • Sects are likely to emerge amongst the poor as such groups may develop a theodicy of disprivilege (refers to the belief of the promise that salvation may be granted as a reward for earthly poverty) which is a religious set of ideas that explains why people are in that position
  • Wilson developed on this by saying that a variety of factors may lead to marginalisation such as unemployment, poverty, racism etc.

Status frustration

  • People are frustrated at their lack of status, status frustration, in society and was first created by Cohen
  • Marginality discussed above and status is particularly associated with teenagers transitioning from childhood to adulthood
  • Wallis suggests this may explain why young people are most likely to be attracted to NRMS as it offers support during a time of multiple identity transition
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