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About this Course
About the Course
In this course, Professor Eileen Barker (London School of Economics) explores the characteristics of New Religious Movements (NRMs) and their relationship to wider society. The first module looks at terminologies associated with new religions, including issues with the term “cult”, problems around defining a religion as “new”, and Professor Barker’s preference for “first-generation movement”. In the second, we consider some common characteristics of first-generation movements, in terms of their beliefs and composition and their frequent exposure to persecution. In the third module, we think about how NRMs change over time, particularly as they become second-generation movements, and the internal and external factors which influence this. In the final two modules, we consider NRMs’ relationships with wider society, such as their portrayal in the media, the emergence of anti-cult activism, and the “cult wars” between anti-cultists, scholars, and the movements themselves.
About the Lecturer
Professor Eileen Barker is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the London School of Economics. She is a leading expert on New Religious Movements (NRMs), founder of the Information Network Focus on New Religious Movements (INFORM), and author of The Making of a Moonie (1984), a foundational text in the study of new religions. Her recent publications include Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions (2021, as co-editor) and Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements (2016, as editor).