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The "New Renunciates" of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: Observations and Identification of Problems of Interpreting New Religious Movements

Lewis F. Carter
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 148-172
DOI: 10.2307/1385791
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1385791
Page Count: 25
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The "New Renunciates" of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: Observations and Identification of Problems of Interpreting New Religious Movements
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Abstract

This paper is a non-hostile outsider narrative describing the Rajneesh movement with special attention to their attempt to establish a spiritual center in Eastern Oregon. Analysis was complicated by the dispersed and mobile following exhibiting wide variation in commitment, linked communal groups, multiple corporate identities, and the movement's rejection of constraint to ideological consistency. Researchers of new religious movements may find the strategies employed useful when faced with these problems in other settings. The research experience reinforces cautions about the importance of the researcher's social location and relationship to the group being studied. The identity and demeanor of the observer influences what is available to be seen as well as how that may be interpreted.

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