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

Lorne L. Dawson
Sociology of Religion
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Autumn, 2001), pp. 337-364
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3712354
Page Count: 28
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The Cultural Significance of New Religious Movements: The Case of Soka Gakkai
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Abstract

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 industrial societies.

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