Posted by: aboutalbion | October 31, 2012

Religious market forces

In his book, Rodney Stark next wants explore who is mostly likely to be in the market place looking for new religious ideas.

Stark cites research studies “of early adapters of cultural innovations [which have] found them to be well above average in terms of income and education”. (p38)  He infers that what is “true of new technology, fashion, and attitudes” is likely to be true in religion because “new religions always involve new ideas”. (p38)

He argues that “new religions must always make their way in the market openings left them by weaknesses in the conventional religions(s) of a society”. (p37)  Furthermore, “it is the privileged who will be most aware of erosions of the plausibility structure of conventional faiths”. (p39)

Stark states this as a proposition …

“Religious scepticism is most prevalent among the more privileged.” (p37)

He is aware that of the very many new religions that appear in the market place, very, very few gain any market share.  Stark just wishes to establish that where converts to a cult movement are noted, they “will be from the more, rather than the less, privileged classes”. (p39)

“This is precisely what we ought to expect when we realize that conversion to a new religion involves being interested in new culture – indeed, in being capable of mastering new culture.” (p38)

[Stark, Rodney (1997) The Rise of Christianity.  New York: HarperOne.]


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