A different perspective on why some individuals are drawn to
new religious movements has been linked to the rapid social change. According
to Wilson (1970) when a society experience rapid change the established norms and
values are disrupted, resulting in normlessness. This erosion of norms creates
a state of uncertainty and as a response individual often turn to NRMs for guidance.
 Wallis (1984) shows how social change resulted
in young people spending more time in education. This enabled them to develop a
counter culture. The believe in these new forms of ideology and political movements
presented   young people with alternative world views. Bruce
(1995) suggests that the development of counter cultures that embraced radical
political movements and ideologies didn’t bring about the alternative world
view they proposed. Consequently, this led young people turning to NRMs for answers.
Furthermore, social change erodes the social structures that mediate between the
individual and formal structures of society.  The replacement of extended families and homogeneous
neighbourhoods   by social inventions, eliminate the mediating
factor by   fostering relations that transcend kinship ties.
Likewise, this results in individuals being less dependent on the traditional
familial structure. It appears that New Religious movements attract new members
as there able to combine the personalistic-expressive roles in the familial
setting and impersonal instrumental roles in dominant formal structures. (Robins
et al 1979) Lofland and stark 1960s observational research on the Moonies revealed
that interpersonal bonds were central to the recruitment of new members. New members
were less likely to stay if a bond didn’t develop however if a bond was created
people were more likely to join. More importantly certain people were drawn to
the group not because of ideology but the attachment they developed with members.
Moreover, Individuals can join New religious movements through Pre-existing social
networks. Lofland and stark (1965) noticed that majority of Moonies members had
been commonly connected by long-standing relations. Also, other potential members
were drawn from this first recruit’s immediate social network. Similarly, Lynch
(1977, 1980) found other members social ties were central in recruiting
converts for the Church of the Sun, a new cult movement in Southern California.
Members of this cult had no social life other than that existed within the cult
members.  Accordingly, Richardson and
Stewart (1977) found similar results with the Jesus movement highlighting the
central role played by social networks in attracting new members to new
religious movements.

 

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