topic 6 organisations, movements and members

HideShow resource information

organisations, movements + members. topic 6

Church + Sect. 
Ernst Troeltsch -> two types of church.
- large organisations (millions of members) run by a bureaucratic hierarchy of professional priests who claim the monopoly truth.


  • universalistic - aiming to include whole society. 
  • attracted by higher classes
  • closely linked to state
  • few demands on members

Sect -> small 

  • lower social classess
  • higher level of commitment
  • reject values of world surrounding them
  • led by charasmatic leader
  • believe they have the monopoly of truth. 
1 of 9

Denominations + Cults

Denominations + cults.
Richard Niebuhr -> Denominations suchs as methodism lies mid way between churchs/sects.
-Membership is less exclusive but they dont appeal to whole society.
-Accept societies values but not linked to the state.
-Dont claim monopoly truth.

 Cults -> loose unit, small groups highly individualistic. 
Tolerant of other religions.
Dont demand high commitment.

Similarities + Differences.  
Wallis -> How they see themselves.
Churches + sects claim interpretation is the only one.
Denominations +Cults accept other interpretations  
How they are seen by wider society  
Churches + Denominations seen as respectable + Legitimate. 
Sects + Cults are seen as deviant.  

2 of 9

New religious movements

Roy Wallis catergorises NRM into 3 groups based on relationship to outside world. 
Reject it- Accomodate it - Affirm it.

World rejecting NRM. - similar to Troelsch's sects.
Eg Branch Davidians - Peoples Temple.

  • Clearly religious organisations with notion of GOD. 
  • Highly critical of outside world. - expecting radical change. 
  • Members live communally with restricted contact with outside world.  
    Often seen as brainwashing. 

World accomodating NRM. - often breakaways from existing mainstream churches or denomination.

World affirming NRMs.- may lack conventional features to religion eg collective worship. 
They offer access for followers to spiritual or supernatural powers. 
Eg Scientology 

  •  accept world as it is but promise followers success. 
  • Non exclusive and tollerant to other religions. 
  • most are cults so seen as customers and they carry out normal lives.  
3 of 9

Sects and Cults.

Stark + Bainbridge. - two organisation types in conflict with wider society.

Sects - Result from SCHISMS - breakaways from churches usually due to disagreement. 
- Promise other worldly benifits to those suffering from deprivation. 

Cults are new religions eg Scientology to society.  
- offer this worldly benifits eg good health. 

Cults are subdivides into: 

Audience cults - least organised, participation through media.
Client cults - based on consultant/client relationship. ( Therapies.)
Cultic movements - most organised with high demand of commitment. aims to meet all members religious needs 

4 of 9

Explaining the growth of religious movements !

3 explanations for increase in NRM.  Marginality/ relative deprivation/ social change.

Sects tend to gain members who are poor + oppressed.
Webber - sects offer members 'Theodicy of disprivilege'. this is a religious explanation + justification of their suffering.

Relative Deprivation
People turn to sects to join a collective community.
Stark + Bainbridge -> the relatively deprived break away from churches to form sects.

Social change
Wilson -> Change disrupts established norms + values producing anomie or normlessness.
As a response to these changes, people turn to sects as a solution. eg the industrial revolution caused the birth of methodism. -> they succeeded by recruiting large numbers of new industrial working class.

Bruce-> Growth of sects+ Cults has come from secularisation as people dont like traditional churches as there is too much demand and commitment. people like cults as there is less demand and fewer sacrifices.  

5 of 9

The growth of the New Age.

Heelas - > two common characteristics of New Age. 
Self - Spirituality - New agers seeking the spiritual have turned away from traditional church and instead look inside themselves to find it.
Detraditionalisation -> New Age reject spiritual authority of traditional sources (Priests/ sacred text) but value personal experience.  

Postmodernity and the New age. 
 Drane - popularity of New age has come from shift towards postmodern society. 

Due to war, conflict environmental destruction from science, people have lost faith in experts + professionals.( Scientists/doctors) 
Churches fail to meet spiritual needs therefore people turn to the New Age ideas that everyone just has to look inside themselves. ( individualism)
Bruce says NEW AGE is PICK + MIX spiritual shopping.

Heelas - New Age + Modernity linked.
Source of identity
Consumer culture
Rapid social change
Decline of organised religion.  

6 of 9

Religiosity and social groups.

Gender and religiosity. 
More male priests for most religions but more women participate in religious activities and have strong beliefs.
In 2005 1.8million women churchgoers to 1.36 million men.
Supporting Miller + Hoffmans theory that women express greater interest in religion.

Reasons for Gender differences.
Socialisation and gender role.
Miller + Hoffman say women are socialised to be more passive obediant + caring making them more religious.
- women are more likely to work part time so they have more time to participate in religious activities.
Davie - women have closer proximity to birth/ death with children and elderly bringing them closer to the ultimate questions on meaning of life.  

Women and the New Age. ( Self religions) 
As women are associated with nature, more attracted to New Age movements. 

Compensation for Deprivation. 
Glock + S
tark + Stark + Bainbridge - many people participate in religion to compensate various forms of deprivation.  - Organismic deprivation/ ethical deprivation/ social deprivation 

7 of 9

Recent trends + Ethnicity and religiosity.

Women are leaving the church at a faster rate then men. 
- likely due to the pressures at home, family, work. Also 1/3 women work on sundays!
Brown says women have begun to reject traditional gender roles.

Ethnicity and religiosity.
72% of uk say they are christian. 
- Reasons for ethnic differences. - many ethnic minorities come from poorer countries with traditional cultures.
Minorities creats a cultural defence / cultural transition.

Cultural defence. - Bruce says religion gives people identity in different environments. religion can be basis for communities in minorities. solidarity. seen as a way of coping with oppression in racist society.

Cultural transition.  religion can offer support and a sense of community for minority groups in new surroundings. eg immigrants in USA. 
Pentacostalism is seen as the religion of the oppressed. it is highly adaptive.  

8 of 9

Age and religious participation.

Pattern of age is the older the person, the more likely they are to attend religious services. 

Under 15s more likely to go to church as they are made to by their parents / schools. 
Over 65s more likley to be sick or disabled therefore unable to attend. higher death rates also make this a smaller group. reducing number availible to attend.

Reasons for age differences.  
Voas + Crockett say there are two main sorts of explanations to age differences.

The aging effect. - people turn to religion as they got older. 
As we approach death, we become more concerned about spiritual matters and afterlife.

The generational effect. - view that as society becomes more secular, each new generation is less religious. more old people than young people at church, not because they are more attracted but because they were socialised into it.  

Voas + Crockett say generational effect is more significastn as they claim each generation is half as religious as their parents. 

30% of churchgoers are over 65. Gill says children are no longer recieving socialisation religiously. 

9 of 9


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

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