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Sociology Perspective Of Former Cult Members Sociology Essay

In today society, not everyone knows what exactly cults are or their purpose. There are various classifications; however, usually their basis for defined upon their distinction of foundation of belief, such as being religious or societal. Within the pages of the Encarta, the cult of the system of religious or spiritual beliefs especially in informal or transient belief system regarded by others as misguided. unorthodox, extremist, or false, and direct by a charismatic authoritarian leader. Sociologists have objectively studied Cults; they see them as a way to understand society as a whole. Sociology studies the development and structure of human societies instead of why that behavior is occurring. Recently sociologists have started calling cults “New Religious Movements”. “ Sociology,… includes consideration of such factors as authoritarian leadership patterns, loyalty and commitment mechanisms, lifestyle characteristics,[in addition, to] conformity patterns (including the use of various sanctions in connection with those members who deviate)” (Enroth, 1983). “In general, no matter what definitions are used, cult members share a number of similar characteristics. The majority are idealistic, simple, mail, white, middle-class, and young, many be 18 to 25 years old. Most have been members of the Christian or Jewish communities, and they have attended services regularly. Approximately 60 percent of cult members have attended college although only 20% have received degrees” (Zeinert, 1997, p 15). There are certain characteristics that can help define which organizations that are considered cults as well. Some characteristics are as follows: there leaders are controlling, and the followers are usually isolated from the rest of society in order to establish complete loyalty. The studies below show how former Cult members differ and how former cult members dealt with the changes from being an isolated environment back into society.

The study done in 2007 in Spain, psychologists were trying to determine what factors influence cult involvement. The study was given to three different type of individuals: former cult members, non-cult members, and psychology student. “The aim of the present study was to examine the perception of a Spanish sample of 101 self identified former members of diverse cult groups. Their responses were compared to those of 38 former members of diverse non-cult members and 24 psychology students” (Almendross, 2007). Out of the former cult members, there were 55 that were male and 46 that were female. Of the 38 non-cult members, there were 21 female participants and 17 male. Out of the 24 psychology students there were 20 female students and 4 male students.

The Theory and Method Used

Social Implosion was the social problem presented, which is explained as relating the way in which people in groups behave and interact. “This refers to an event where a subgroup of a larger group's suddenly becomes separated from the larger group-- the members of the subgroup several other connections to the larger group (off to society as a whole), and entire social lives become involved in the smaller group” (Stark & Bainbridge, 1987). Because of the problem being a social implosion, the theory used would be the symbolic interaction approach. This series based on a macro level orientation meaning a broad focus on the social structures which shape society as a whole and micro level orientation which a close-up focus on social interaction in specific situations. “Symbolic interaction approach is a framework for building theory that sees society as the product of everyday interaction of individuals” (Macionis, 2009, pg. 9) the researchers used positivist sociology and interpretive sociology to compile scientific data by surveys interviews as well as existing sources.

The surveys consisted of five parts: general dissatisfaction (a dissatisfaction with life), intimate relations (conflicts within family), ideas (need for solid belief), self-development (searching for spiritual experiences), manipulation (deceit by group). The researchers hypotheses was that former cult members would precede psychological abuse within their group; however, the results showed the former Gold members received more controlling behavior in the groups as an important factor. There were no differences between the former cult member and the non-cult member when dealing with in intimate relationships. This study had a biased opinion based on psychology perspective because instead of having actual cult members the researchers used 24 psychology students to answer questions of cult members. Moreover, the sociological factors were not considered. The former cult members found no psychological abuse within the study there are incidences where it is documented. The study below was based on a psychological viewpoint; then describe the sociological factors such as economic, age, race class, and gender which are all influences were individuals to join a cult.

Second Research Results

A group called “The Children of God”or short COG which is also known as ”The Family International”was led by David Brandt Berg. A study was given to women who was the first generation of COG and young adults who were SGA which is young adults born in COG or second generation of adults. “We conducted an in-depth interview with 15 middle aged women and 12 young adults and youth the life course perspective to focus on generational differences” (Boeri & Boeri, 2009). “Nine of the 12 respondents mentioned being sexually abused while members of the COG. They define sexual abuse as watching adults (including their parents) have sex with other members, being encouraged to have sexual interactions with other children, or having sexual contact (including intercourse) with adults at a young age. Three of the respondents reported experiencing severe physical abuse while in the COG” (Boeri & Boeri, 2009).

Comparing Research

The study, based on in-depth interviews showed how COG’s abuse affected the relationship between child and parent which is unlike controlling behavior of the previous study. There were multiple times that sexual and physical abuse occurred with the children when they were younger as well as older women being forced to become prostitutes and escorts. The problem was the only factors in the former women COG members study were one. Nevertheless, the SAG study included both female and male COG members. The study was not to find anything except psychological and did not display sociological factors such as economic, class, and race.

While both studies showed the psychological damage done in cults, both cases needed further investigation. The study in Spain did not take into consideration other Cults in other countries were places. The second study did not use enough people therefore were limited to their results. Sociologically, the studies lack research due to not taking in consideration sociological aspects. The studies should be focused on the psychological perspective of cults. I think it would have been helpful to include for generations to come in understanding of recognizing the signs of members within the cult. Cults have been around for thousands of years, sociology can teach us ways of learning the purposes of the formation of the school in the hopes of preventing future ones to be a established or formed.

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