Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field

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University of Toronto Press, 2001 - Religion - 524 pages
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Misunderstanding Cults provides a uniquely balanced contribution to what has become a highly polarized area of study. Working towards a moderate "third path" in the heated debate over new religious movements or cults, this collection includes contributions from both scholars who have been characterized as "anticult" and those characterized as "cult-apologists." The study incorporates multiple viewpoints as well as a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives, with the stated goal of depolarizing the discussion over alternative religious movements. A prominent section within the book focuses explicitly on the issue of scholarly objectivity and the danger of partisanship in the study of cults.

The collection also includes contributions on the controversial and much misunderstood topic of brainwashing, as well as discussions of cult violence, children brought up in unconventional religious movements, and the conflicts between alternative religious movements and their critics. Unique in its breadth, this is the first study of new religious movements to address the main points of controversy within the field while attempting to find a middle ground between opposing camps of scholarship.

 

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Contents

Finding a Middle Ground in a Polarized
3
Collaborationist and Research
35
Balance and Fairness in the Study of Alternative
71
Confessions of a Canadian
99
Pitfalls in the Sociological Study of Cults
123
Towards a Demystified and Disinterested Scientific Theory
159
Pseudo Science
215
Competing Political Narratives
318
Revival of the Brainwashing Model
379
A Rejoinder to Lome Dawsons
401
ChildRearing Issues in Totalist Groups
415
A Case Study of the Conflict Between
452
The Roots of Religious Violence in America
478
Appendix
515
Contributors
521
Copyright

Scientology
349

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About the author (2001)

Benjamin Zablocki is a professor in the Sociology Department at Rutgers University. Thomas Robbins is an independent scholar and lives in Rochester, Minnesota.

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