Journal Article

The Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements: The Case of Soka Gakkai

Lorne L. Dawson

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 337-364
Published in print January 2001 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2001 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
The Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements: The Case of Soka Gakkai

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This paper advances previous arguments I have made about assessing the cultural significance of new religious movements (Dawson 1998a, 1998b) using the example of Soka Gakkai. An examination of this Japanese-based, but now world-wide, new religion highlights two things: (1) it demonstrates that there is an intimate relationship between the investigation of the “success” and the “significance” of a new religious movement, though the two concerns are not necessarily linked; and (2), and it points to the most methodologically sound foci for future research on both topics through the comparative analysis of new religious movements. The success and significance of Soka Gakkai in the West is explained in terms of certain organizational adaptations and the elective affinity of its ethos with the emergent religious sensibilities of advanced iridustrial societies.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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