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Session 2

Organizational Challenges in New Religious Movements

How do new religious movements balance modern expectations of individual choice and mobility with needs for organizational stability? Although long-established institutions in major world religions grapple with the same issues of individual freedom and organizational survival, new religious movements put the issue in a new light.

Having arisen in a period of scepticism toward organised religious authority, new religious movements often thrive on the appeal of charismatic leaders, the lure of esoteric knowledge, and the cachet of social distinctiveness.

To sustain themselves and develop, however, such movements develop innovative forms of organization. For example, the religious movement known as modern Spiritualism began in the later nineteenth century to develop standard (and interconnected) local, regional, and national (and now global) institutional forms, but these forms are seeing dwindling numbers and closing churches; yet Spiritualism has thrived in alternative arenas such as psychic fairs, social clubs, Tarot courses, and private mediumship.

Contact person: Matt Tomlinson, matthew.tomlinson@sai.uio.no

Sidansvarig: Elin Widfeldt|Sidan uppdaterades: 2020-01-29

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