Sectarianism and Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism and sectarianism are frequently regarded as extreme, bizarre, or even dangerous forms of religion, at odds with mainstream society and outside established faiths. Certainly, a fair amount of public ignorance exists regarding the motivations, aims and beliefs of these expressions of religiosity. At the same time, a great deal of sociological ink has been spilt discussing sectarianism and, more lately, the related area of fundamentalism. This preoccupation is understandable given the proliferation of sects throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their apparent increase in recent years. Sects are of interest at least because they provide opportunities to examine the member-ship, processes of conversion, ‘deviant’ beliefs and practices and the social and ecclesiastical dynamics which generate distinct forms of religious organization. The interconnected area of fundamentalism is of no less interest to sociology. Indeed, it is one of the most noteworthy developments in contemporary religion, having a widespread significance within the context of globalization, and an increasingly high profile within Western secular societies.
KeywordsWestern Society Religious Organization Intentional Community Mainstream Society Sect Member
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