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Organizational Change and Religious Commitment: Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists in Cuba, 1938-1965

B. E. Aguirre and Jon P. Alston
The Pacific Sociological Review
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Apr., 1980), pp. 171-197
DOI: 10.2307/1388816
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1388816
Page Count: 27
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Organizational Change and Religious Commitment: Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists in Cuba, 1938-1965
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Abstract

Analysis of membership and activity data of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Cuba during 1938-1965 indicates two general trends. During the first period of 1938-1947, the membership increased from roughly 100 to 4000 members while the average activism levels (amount of religious activity per member) gradually decreased. This lessening in religious commitment was associated with an increase in the size of the congregations, which had the effect of diminishing the probability of primary relations among local members and a corresponding continuation of a sense of belonging and organizational loyalty among them. The 1948-1965 period was one of intense social upheaval in Cuba. During these years, the membership increased to close to 20,000 members while the average size of congregations stabilized, fluctuating closely around 35 members. This second period was associated with organizational formalization, with increased membership size and complexity, and with higher per capita religious activity, all of which was maintained until the Cuban Watch Tower Society was banned in 1965. The importance of the relative size of the local congregation in understanding levels of religious activism is underscored by the results of a parallel analysis of the Cuban Seventh-Day Adventist sect. The average size of the local congregation increased throughout 1938-1965; their levels of religious activism declined. The results suggest a need for conceptual refinements of the church-sect model using the collective behavior and social movements approach. Such attempts will aid in the development of a more rigorous church-sect theory.

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