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Identify and Briefly Explain Three Characteristics of Sects

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Identify and briefly explain three characteristics of sects (9 marks)

Sects tend to be “world rejecting” which means they are oppositional to the rest of the world. This is partly caused by the fact that sects often claim they have a monopoly over the truth as the claim to re-establish fundamental truths. Sects target the marginalised and at the same time offer to these people a status identity in the sense that they often portray themselves as exclusive with a monopoly over the truth. They are radical in their rejection of the rest of society and other belief systems, are aggressive to the existing social order, and they are often in opposition to the state, therefore rejecting the normal status-quo and appearing to be hostile to wider society - which in turn perceives them as deviant.

Sects normally demand total commitment from their member and strong internal discipline. Once a person joins a sect, members are often expected to end their connections with the outside world, often to the extent that they must withdraw completely from society. As sect members are usually expected to demonstrate total commitment to the organisation, they often have to obey strict rules and may even have new names and religious dress codes imposed on them. Sociologists have been knows to interpret that people who join sects are looking for a structure or meaning in their lives.

Sects are often characterised by having charismatic leaders who can attract people who are influenced by their persuasion or charm into joining. These charismatic leaders exert considerable authority and control over their members. The formation of a sect is often based on a charismatic leader who usually claims to have special powers, such as a direct link to God. Charismatic leaders may well explain why sects can grow quickly, but also why many are short-lived because when the leader dies, the sect…...

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