The Powerlessness of Religious Power in a Pluralist Society
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionRepstad, P. (2003). The Powerlessness of Religious Power in a Pluralist Society. Social Compass, 50(2), 161-173.
In pluralist societies adhering to liberal and individualistic ideas, strict and conservative groups face some serious dilemmas if they want to recruit and keep members. In a liberal society, the most important form of religious power is normative power. Strict and demanding religious organizations will have difficulties in a liberal, anti-authoritarian society. Such organizations may succeed in increasing their control over loyal members, but in a broader context, they will be branded as authoritarian by the secular media and by general public opinion. This, in turn, will have negative effects on their ability to recruit new members. This line of reasoning is presented in connection with survey data and illustrative cases from present-day Norway. On a theoretical level, the author contests some points of view in rational choice theory stating that strict and profiled religious organizations will tend to have the greatest success.
The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Social compass, 50/2,2003 by SAGE Publications Ltd., All rights reserved. © http://scp.sagepub.com/