Sects, Cults and New Religions
Edited by Carole Cusack, Danielle Kirby
To Be Published October 28th 2013 by Routledge – 1,565 pages
Series: Critical Concepts in Sociology
New Religious Movements (NRMs) came into being as a distinct subfield of academic study in the 1970s in response to the explosion of non-traditional religions that took place in the waning years of the Sixties counterculture. (The designation 'New Religion' is a direct translation of a Japanese term coined for the many new religions that emerged in the wake of the Second World War, and was adopted by Western scholars in the late Sixties/early Seventies in preference to the pejorative term 'cult.') These movements, and those termed ‘sects’ and ‘cults’, initially attracted the attention of American and European sociologists of religion because of the controversy that arose in response to their expansion.
Religious Studies, which at the time was still in the process of establishing itself as a legitimate discipline distinct from Theology and traditional Biblical Studies, was only too happy to leave NRMs to Sociology. This situation gradually changed, however, so that at present at least as many scholars of NRMs come from Religious Studies backgrounds as come from the social sciences.
The collection consists of four volumes of mostly reprinted articles and book chapters on NRMs that provides a single source for basic information on – and theoretical/methodological approaches to – contemporary New Religions. This set of volumes includes discussions of a wide variety of themes associated with NRMs (e.g., apocalypticism, typologies, conversion, women and New Religions) and chapters on the NRMs that have attracted the most scholarly attention (e.g., the ‘Moonies’, The Family International, Osho Rajneesh).
Contents have been selected bearing in mind certain criteria: solid scholarship, range of empirical subject matter and theoretical perspectives, and range of influential and relatively unknown articles. Some influential ‘anti-cult’ articles (normally not considered part of mainstream scholarship) are included as well. Sects, Cults and New Religions is fully indexed and includes a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, and is destined to be valued as a vital research resource.
Volume I: Emergence Volume II: Structures Volume III: Contexts Volume IV: Relations