Janja A. Lalich

in Bounded Choice

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780520231948
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937512 | DOI:

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The confounding behaviors of some cult members occur as a logical conclusion to lives that have been gradually constrained in an increasingly oppressive social structure. Some cult members make seemingly irrational, harmful, and sometimes fatal decisions. These acts are committed in a context that makes perfect sense to them at the time and are consistent with an ideology or belief system that they trust. This chapter provides an understanding of why cult members do what they do, based on both the promises and the constraints of the cult context. A look of the daily lives and inner workings of various cult groups over the decade is provided. Contrary to popular belief, cults have attracted not the lonely and lost, but rather the idealistic and lofty-minded, the curious and well educated. The model of bounded choice offers a new way of thinking about and analyzing the true believer phenomenon, which explains how normal, intelligent, educated people can give up years of their lives and sometimes their very lives to groups and beliefs. This intertwined reality is conveyed using the instances of Heaven's Gate and the Democratic Workers Party.

Keywords: cult; true believers; bounded choice; Heaven's Gate; Democratic Workers Party

Chapter.  9044 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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