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Comprehending Cults: The Sociology of New Religious Movements [Paperback]

by Lorne L. Dawson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 25, 2006 0195420098 978-0195420098 2
Comprehending Cults, Second Edition, provides a sociological interpretation of the phenomenon of new religious movements. While the author does not offer an apologia for cults--in either a religious or a sociological sense--he does attempt to replace suspicion and misinformation with a greater knowledge of the facts (as best we know them) and a measure of sympathetic understanding.
Completely revised and updated in this second edition, the book examines all aspects of cults, while striving to delineate the very real limits of our knowledge. In addition to dealing with the troublesome aspects of the subject, including issues of violence, sexuality, and brainwashing, the author also considers the possibility that new religious movements are a source of spiritual satisfaction to their members. Offering up-to-date social science research about contemporary religious cults, Comprehending Cults, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate sociology of religion and new religious movements courses.

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is undoubtedly the best introduction to New Religious Movements (NRMs) as sociological phenomena. Not only does Dawson have a gift for summarizing and evaluating the major theories, but, more importantly, he is able to provide structure and meaning to the ways in which we conceptualise the issues surrounding NRMs" -- Dr. Lorenzo DiTommaso, McMaster University

About the Author

Lorne L. Dawson is a Professor of Sociology and Chair for the Department of Religious Studies, University of Waterloo.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (January 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195420098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195420098
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dawson's writing is hopeless October 4, 2007
This book is poor quality.

At McMaster University I was excited to take their Cults in North America course. After having to purchase and read Dawson's Comprehending Cults my excitement changed to agony. This is probably one of the most poorly written university texts I've had to buy.

Here is why
-miscellany of random quotes are splattered among the writing, use of quotes also seem irrelevant to the topics discussed.
-its needlessly wordy you'll read paragraph after paragraph and it just looks like an incoherent mess
-Dawson is bold enough to create his own social scientific model that would only exist in a vacuum...when it comes to examining NRMs in the real world, his model utterly falls apart
-his treatment of NRMs is very condescending: you'd have to read it (which i don't recommend doing)

I actually emailed Lorne Dawson (University of Waterloo), politely asking him about some of the things in his text. Its hard to really explain further here but he gave me a very dismissive reply.

The problem is that NRMs and cults are difficult to study scientifically, Dawson work exemplifies this fact. Mr. Dawson, that is not a compliment.

I want my money back.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars satisfied customer November 14, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
it's a really interesting book. it really opened my eyes to the types of people who join cults and why, I was really suprised.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last: a book about the reality of "cults" October 14, 1999
I strongly recomment this book. It discusses new religious movements from an academic perspective. An excellent antidote to the religious intolerance and panic spread by the counter-cult heresy hunters and the anti-cult thought control advocates.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This! February 16, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My prediction is that cultic behavior is going to increase in the future.
Therefore, read this book if you want to understand the phenomenon, and the people who join cults. I believe we are totally unprepared for an increase in cults and for what that would mean for us personally and for the society as a whole. What are the limits if any for religious freedom? Who decides? This book is certainly a great start in beginning to comprehend what cults are. and what they mean socially.
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