2 Social Networks and Conversion
James R. Lewis [+]
One of the other standard generalizations about new religions is that people convert to NRMs primarily through preexisting social networks. In the second chapter, I examine data on a variety of new religions which demonstrate that social networks are not always the dominant point of first contact for new converts. Additionally, recruitment patterns change over time so that different factors become dominant at different points in a movement’s development. Two reasons why this variability has escaped the attention of most researchers is an unconscious tendency to assume, as I have already noted, that the sociological profiles of members of different NRMs are essentially similar, plus the fact that such groups are typically studied synchronically rather than diachronically.