The Short-Lived Nature of NRMs


Death or Denomination

Niebuhr (1929)= Sects are short-lived because they will enevitably die out or become a denomination for 3 main reasons:

  • Less commitment from second generation- younger members do not hold the same fervour and commitment as their parents and as such lose interest quickly.
  • Asceticism creates conflict of interests- many Sects practise asceticism (Protestant Work Ethic) and therefore members become wealthier and upwardly mobile. This presents the members with a conflict of interests.
  • Death of Charismatic Leader- this either means that the sect will breakdown or be replaced by a bureaucratic leadership which would transform the Sect into a Denomination. 
1 of 3

Wilson (1982)

Wilson (1982)= says Conversionist Sects such as Evangelicals beleive that the only way to salvation is to be 'born again'. There aim is to convert as many people as possible to God through preaching.

2 of 3

Sectarian Cycle

Stark and Brainbridge (1985)= say that religion goes through stages and he calls this the 'Sectarian Cycle'.

  • Stage 1- Tension between Depived and Priveledged members of a Church (this creates a 'Schism'.
  • Stage 2- The Deprived members break away from the Church and form their own.
  • Stage 3- Ascetism, second generation disinterest, death of leader means the Sect has less fervour and becomes more bureacratic.
  • Stage 4- Establishment of Sect as a Denomination of the original, wider Church from where it started.
3 of 3


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Religion and beliefs resources »