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The Active vs. Passive Convert: Paradigm Conflict in Conversion/Recruitment Research

James T. Richardson
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 163-179
DOI: 10.2307/1386340
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1386340
Page Count: 17
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The Active vs. Passive Convert: Paradigm Conflict in Conversion/Recruitment Research
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Abstract

Conversion/recruitment research has been guided for years by a traditional paradigm assuming a passive subject being converted by external powers over which no control is possible. The traditional model is also quite psychological and deterministic. A new or alternative paradigm has been developing, derived mainly from studies of recruitment to new religions. It posits a more active, meaning-seeking subject who exercises volition in deciding to convert to a new religion. The conflict between the new and the old paradigms is discussed including characterizing the so-called brainwashing model as a modern variant of the traditional paradigm. Also, the idea of an alternative conversion paradigm is contrasted to other theoretical perspectives from recent papers by Lofland and Skonovd and by Long and Hadden.

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