Organisations, movements and members

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Types of religious organisations 

  • Churches - 
    • Well organised and large organisations 
    • Run by a bureaucratic hierarchy of professional priests 
    • Universalistic and aim to attract the whole of society
    • Ideologically conservative and often closely linked to the state
    • Claim a monopoly of truth
    • More attractive to the higher classes
  • Sects - 
    • Small, exclusive groups 
    • Draw from the poor and oppressed 
    • They too claim a monopoly of truth
    • Hostile of wider society and require high levels of commitment 
    • Led by a charismatic leader
  • Denominations - 
    • Broadly accept society's values 
    • Less exclusive, but they dont appeal to wider society 
    • Impose minor restrictions on members, such as forbidding alcohol, but are not as demanding as sects
    • Tolerant of other religious organisations and dont claim a monopoly of truth
  • Cults
    • Lose knit and least organised
    • Highly individualistic 
    • Doesnt require high levels of commitment 
    • Cults are usually led by 'therapists' and its members are more like customers 
    • Usually world affirming, claiming to improve life in this world
  • Cathedrals to cults 
    • Bruce (1996) argues that Troeltchs idea of a church as having a religious monopoly only applies to the Catholic Church before the 16th century Protestant Reformation when it has religious monopoly over society, symbolished by its massive and impose cathedrals 
    • Since then,

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