The Appeal of NRM's and NAM's

Looks at reasons as to why people join NAM's and NAM's and evaluates them

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  • There is evidence of disenchantment - results from a search for more genuine ways of satisfying spiritual needs
  • Weber: Linked sects to social stratification: Most likely to emerge amongst the poor, such groups may develop a 'theodicy of disprivilege' (Religious reasons for why they are in that position) 


  • Since the 1960's, world rejecting NRM's have recruited mainly from affluent groups 

^^ But Wallis says this doesn't contradict Weber's view as most were marginal to society (drug users, hippes, drop outs etc.)

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Relative Deprivation: Glock and Stark

  • NRM's and NAM's also attract the middle class 
  • = Relative deprivation (middle class feel deprived compared to others) 

Types of Relative Deprivation:

- Social Deprivation: Lack of power and status. Find alternative satisfaction.

- Organismic Deprivation: Physical and mental problems. Look for healing

- Ethical Deprivation: Result of people percieving the world in moral decline.

- Psychic Deprivation: Searching for more than the dominant value system offers. Wish for inner spiritual fulfillment. 

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Social Change

  • Religious sects are the product of social change
  • Change may create anomie

Anomie - Durkheim - sense of insecurity - because rapid change disrupts traditional norms and values

  • Wilson: Popularity of world accomodating groups in 18th-19th century due to worries by industralisation and urbanisation 
  • 20th century sects may be due to dominance of rationalism creating worry
  • Bellah: Increase in sect and cult membership in late 60's in USA due to middle class youth experiencing a 'crisis of meaning' - Materialistic values of their parents culture
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The Key To Success


  • World affirming NRM's and NAM's appeal to the affluent middle class who feel there is something missing in their lives
  • They seek to recapture their inner selves, and can pay to do so


  • They appeal as they claim to offer ways to unlock spiritual powers within yourself, reducing stress from work and personal lives
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Disenchantment With The World


  • The world has become more rational and predictable
  • Mystical elements have disappeared
  • Churches and denominations have watered down their beliefs to fit in


  • The lack of spiritual meaning leads people to find comfort and a sense of community in smaller, newer religious groups 
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Status Frustration

Status frustration is people being unhappy about the position they find themselves in society. This applies particularly to young people going from childhood to adulthood. 


  • NRM's help young people gain an identity 

World rejecting groups appeal to young people as they offer a supportive community of people in similar situations >> community and independance 


Status frustration can be short lived

Wallis: NRM's involve a small proportion of the population for a short period of their lives

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Meghan Clay


Very informative and direct.

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