Social Issues

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Cults have been characterized as domineering and persuasive. Cults are
willing to prey on

any social class and gender in order to attain another member. The increasing
popularity of

joining cults is reflected on “economic status, social class, and emotional
state” (Singer p.16,

1995). A conflict perspective suggests that poor economic stability, social
class, and no authority

attest to the fact that more people are joining cults, and that increasing
each might lessen the

chance of joining a cult. Authors Deikman, Levine, and McMahon argue that
cults merely prey

on those who are weak and of poor judgment. As social structures, cults serve
merely to

legitimate class subordination in ways that ensure joiners will worship and
follow the leader

(Singer p.30, 1995). Authors Dawson and Allen argue that cults look for
specific behaviours:

1. poor economic stability

2. social class

3. no authority

4. gender

Trends in Canadian cult joining by economics, class, authority, and gender
support the

view that these behaviours are typical of followers (Hoggart p.65, 1995).

Societal elements continue to let people have low incomes, low class, and no
authority

within a job. There is no regulation of cults and no regulation of how many
people join. Societal

elements continue to ignore people and continue to keep low economies, low
class, and no

authority within our society.

A conflict perspective argues the extent to which characteristics and
behaviours cults look

for when seeking out a new member.

One specific cult is the Catholic Church. Many people would not dare think of
a church

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as a cult, but, the church looks for specific characteristics of a new
member. Once a member

joins, they are there for life. If they decide to leave, they are shunned
from the church’s society

and are not acknowledged as a Catholic any longer.

Economic Stability

Conflict theorists, such as Weber, agree that “economic interests are
important in shaping

human action”(Kendall p.15, 2000). Most members of a cult do not have a lot
of money. Pre

members usually have recently sold a house or are unemployed. Cult leaders
prey on these people

because of low economics. Members with no funds are vulnerable to the cult
since they are more

likely to stay within the group because they have no other place they can go.
Cults will prey and

persuade other people, like themselves, to join and stay within the cult.

Economic stability, according to Weber, produces inequality and conflict in
society

(Kendall p.21, 2000). A cult is a mini society, and within this society there
is an exploitation of

the followers. This exploitation of the members economics produces inequality
amongst the

followers and followers and also between the followers and leader. The
discrepancy between

followers and followers occurs when a majority of followers have low
economics while 5 percent

of other followers within the cult have higher economics. The low economic
followers will stay

together while the high economic followers do the same. Because the leader
has enormous

control over the followers, all followers will have to interact with each
other. This causes

conflict. The conflict between followers and followers is a great problem to
the leader. When a

conflict arises, the society the leader has established will eventually
collapse and followers are

most likely to leave when a major conflict arises. To solve this problem, the
leader ensures that

low economic followers are sometimes separated from the high economic

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followers. This will ensure that a huge conflict will not arise so suddenly.

A conflict between followers and leaders arises when the leader picks a
favourite follower.

This favourite member usually has money saved up, which he or she will
eventually hand over to

the leader (Levin p.72, 1984). Most followers will shutout the leaders pet,
leaving him or her to

become closer to the leader. This cycle will continue until the leaders pet
runs out of funds. The

leader will then pick another favourite follower.

When newcomers join a cult, they embrace the doctrines and practices. Soon
the cult’s

demands increase and the new member is asked to devote increasing amounts of
money. This

demand is justified as necessary to fulfill the group’s goals. Willingness
to give over financial

security is interpreted as a new member’s commitment and sincerity. The
sacrifices the new

member makes are compensated by the sense of belonging and purpose. The
leader then gives

temporary praise and acceptance to the member.

Inequalities and conflicts in the cult’s society could lead to a disaster.
Followers against

followers and followers against the leader should lead to a disband of the
society. The leader’s

ability to cease conflict is impressive. He takes money from members and
makes it an offering to

their god to cease the fighting. The other members then believe the conflict
will end. All conflicts

will usually stop at this point because now all members have to donate money.

Social Class

Conflict theorist