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Evaluate the view that religious groups, such as sects, emerge in response to rapid social change.

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Introduction

2. Evaluate the view that religious groups, such as sects, emerge in response to rapid social change. (40) The view of the title is that sects emerge as a response to rapid social change, social dislocation and anomie. Cohn 1957 said that the experience of disasters either natural or manmade e.g. outbreaks of plague or war can lead to people feeling a deep sense of doom and an eager desire for salvation. Sects may also emerge as a response to contact with an "alien culture" especially when it is with being occupied and colonised e.g. when Palestine was colonised by the Romans a sect emerged which is now known as Christianity. Wilson (1970) argues that Methodism emerged as a sect as a response to the "chaos and uncertainty of life in newly settled industrial areas" by the new urban working class. However some sociologist do not think that sects emerge as a response to social change, Stark and Bainbridge 1985 looked at the percentages of sects formed in the USA at different time periods. ...read more.

Middle

the poor, and some ethnic minorities who are more likely to join or establish sects. In this way they become the 'chosen few' rather than outsiders. An example of this is the sect The Black Muslims which rose in the 1960's, its aim was to take on "the negro in the mud". It promised that white people and their religion would be destroyed and blacks would rule forever under the guidance of Allah. The members of this sect no longer felt like outsiders to society but gained self respect and hope. This shows that social marginality can also explain the emergence of sects. However this view can be criticised because Beckford 1975 did a study of Jehovah's witnesses and found that most of them did not seem to have been on the margins of society, they had good jobs and religious upbringing but had become disillusioned with mainstream religion and the sects were a better alternative to them. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows that relative deprivation may offer an explanation as to why sects emerge especially when it comes together with social change. However this view is criticised by Beckford 1975, in his study of Jehovah's witnesses he found that most of them did not appear to be relatively deprives in fact they were either upper working class or lower middle class and showed no obvious signs of relative deprivation either in income or social status. So this explanation in light of its criticisms again may offer a limited explanation for why sects emerge. In conclusion it can not be said that sects emerge as a response to rapid social change alone, the other explanations have to be taken into account. Although social change, social marginality and relative deprivation can not explain the emergence of sects on their own put together they are very useful in explaining why sects emerge and in what circumstances they are most likely to emerge. ?? ?? ?? ?? Chahna Odedra 16th November 2005 Variety of religious organisation 1 ...read more.

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