A2 Sociology: Oranisations, Movements and Members

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Organisations, movements and members
Some people believe w/o belonging, many others express their faith through membership of
a religious organisation such as a church.
Types of religious organisation
Troeltsch: distinguished between two main types ­ the church and the sect
Church: Sects:
Large organisations w/millions of Small, exclusive groups
members Eg. Catholic Church Sects are hostile to wider society
Run by professional priests Expect a high level of commitment
Claim a monopoly of truth Draw their members from the poor
They are universalistic, aiming to and oppressed
include the whole of society Claim a monopoly of truth
More attractive to higher classes ­
closely linked to the state
Denominations: Cult:
Describes denominations such as Highly individualistic
Methodism as lying midway between No sharply defined and exclusive
churches and sects belief system
Like churches, they broadly accept Led by practitioners or therapists
society's values Cults are tolerant of other
Impose minor restrictions on organisation and their beliefs
members, eg. Forbidding alcohol Do not demand strong commitment
Tolerant of other religious from followers
organisations Many cults are world affirming ­
Do not claim a monopoly of truth claiming to improve life in this world.
Church and sects claim a monopoly of truth
Denominations and cults accept other valid interpretations
Churches and denominations are seen as respectable & legitimate
Sects and cults are seen as deviants
New Religious Movements

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Roy Wallis categorises new religious movements into three groups based on their
relationship to the outside world. Whether they reject, accommodate or affirm it.
World Rejecting NRMs: World-accommodating World-affirming NRMs:
Eg. The moonies Often breakaways They accept the
Clear notion of God from existing mainstream world as it is
Highly critical of the churches or denominations Optimistic
outside world Eg.…read more

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Make useful distinctions between organisations
× Their idea of using the degree of conflict wider society to distinguish between them
is similar to Troelstch distinction between church and sect.
× Some examples they use do not fit neatly into any one of their categories.…read more

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Bruce sees the growth of sects and cults today as a response to the social changes
involved in modernisation and secularisation.
Bruce ­ Society is secularised and therefore people are less attracted to traditional
churches & strict sects becos they demand too much commitment. Instead people
prefer cults becos they're less demanding.…read more

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Wilson argues some sects have survived many generations such as Adventists and
Mormons. Instead of becoming denominations, these groups become established
He also argues, that globalisation will make it harder in the future for sects to keep
themselves separate from the outside world.
The Growth of the New Age
The term `New Age' covers a range of beliefs and activities that have been
widespread since at least the 1980s
Many of them are loosely organised audience or client cults.…read more

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Likewise, Heelas sees the New Age and modernity linked in 4 ways
1. A Source of Identity: In modern society people have many different roles (eg. At
work/home) New Age beliefs offer a source of `authentic' identity.
2. Consumer Culture: New Age offers and alternative way to achieve perfection
3. Rapid Social Change: in modern society disrupts established norms and values,
resulting in anomie. New Age provides a sense of certainty
4.…read more

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Compensation for Glock and Stark + Stark and Bainbridge:
Argue that people may participate in religion because
of the compensators for social, organismic and ethical
deprivation that it offers.
1. Organismic Dep: Stems from physical and mental
health, women are more likely to suffer from illness
and seek healing through religion
2. Ethical Dep: women tend to be more morally
conservative. Therefore regard the world to being in
moral decline and be attracted to sects who share this
3.…read more

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However, once a group has made its transition. Religion may lose its role and decline
in importance
Age and Religious Participation
General pattern of religious participation is that the older a person is, the more likely
they are to attend religious services
The under 15s are more likely to go to church than other age groups becos they may
be told to do so by parents
The over 65s are more likely to be sick and disabled and thus unable to attend.…read more


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