Élisabeth Campos and Catherine Dilhaire

The Recruiting Strategies of Sectarian Groups

Since the end of the sixties, new sectarian movements have emerged in Western countries creating tension within the societies in which they evolve. This constant tension has forced them to adapt, on the one hand, to modernity and, on the other, to search out their place in the surrounding community. This double adaptation leaves its trace on the social strategies that they have adopted, especially their recruiting techniques (lectures, door-to-door, canvassing questionnaires, street pan-handling, etc). The examination of the recruiting strategies of these sectarian groups offers a number of different interpretations which show the various interactions which exist between the philosophy of the group, its objectives, the economic imperatives, the techniques with which it must operate and the reaction of other social actors.

 

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Jacques Cherblanc

The New Social Strategies of the Raelian Movement in Quebec

If the Canadian Raelian Movement is so well known in Quebec and if its members are perceived as sexually liberated individuals, watching the sky to await the arrival of UFO’s, it is because their strategy with the North American public is fundamentally different from the one practiced in France. In Europe, the Raelian Movement is primarily seen as a sect with all the fears and prejudices that this entails (gurus, suicides, etc.) ; on the Old Continent, Rael is known first and foremost for his run-ins with the law and for his desire to impose a " geniocracy ". In Quebec however, Rael arrived presenting above all, the libertarian ideals of his movement : the emphasis was put for a time on sexual liberty, the " sympathetic " spiritual leader, the notion of personal responsibility and finally, human cloning. Thus the Canadian Raelian Movement offers an excellent case study for researching the social strategies of contemporary religious groups.

 

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Régis Dericquebourg

The Strategies of Minority Religious Groups

in Response to the French Anti-Sect Fight

France is probably, alongside China, one of the countries which is most active in fighting religious non-conformism and, by association, new therapies and alternative medecines which are suspected of leading patients to sects. The attacks do not spare academics who work in this field. Members of minority religious groups, practitioners of alternative medecine and psychotherapists are subjected to brutal attacks : denunciations, defamation and dismissal. In domains where competition is fierce, the weapon of denouncement &emdash; true or defamatory &emdash; is used. Added to this is administrative and fiscal harrassment aimed at movements listed in the Guyard-Gest Report (Jehovah Witnesses, the " Mandarom ", " Invitation à la vie ", the " Église évangelique de Besançon "). For the most part, the newspapers and a large section of the French population find this situation normal. The minority religious movements, for the longest time passive in regards to these attacks, have reacted at three levels which this article aims to analyse : communications, the law and humanitarian action.

 

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Martin Geoffroy

The Institutionalisation Process of the New Age Movement

The New Age Movement (NA) is in constant mutation and is searching more and more, to ensure its longterm survival, to socially legitimize its beliefs and pratices. A number of social strategies are used with the aim of institutionalising certain dimensions of the movement. The main challenge is to have a majority of individuals accept New Age discourse as having as much authority, if not more, than scientific discourse. To ensure a larger diffusion and a greater credibility to NA discourse and practices, NA adepts use three major strategies : 1) the appropriation of scientific language in the public sphere ; 2) the mobilisation of professional training within existing institutions ; 3) the creation of NA type institutions. This article explains in greater detail the articulation of these three strategies.

 

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Catherine Laflamme

The Social Strategies of Western Neo-Shamanistic Groups

Shamanism is an ancestral tradition which, due to its adaptable character, has survived the centuries. This system of beliefs has, despite obstacles, succeeded in crossing over to modernity. Obviously, today’s shamanism is a far cry from what it once was. The tradition has lost some of its vigour, and its rituals, like its beliefs, have become less than rigorous. In our contemporary world, traditional shamanism flirts with neo-shamanism. The latter, though strongly inspired by the first, finds its source in the social context from which it has spawned. From this viewpoint, the social strategies of neo-shamanistic groups appear, in many respects, as representative of the advanced Western society from which they have sprung, marked by postmodern mutations which include their religious forms and their spiritual quests.

 

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Benjamin-Hugo Leblanc

New Religions, New Media :

" Sects " and their Social Strategies in the Internet

The idea that " sects " would become more and more insistant &emdash; and menacing &emdash; in the Internet cannot be dissociated from another, more global impression : religions publicly claim, today more than ever, their identity and their social action. In different ways, a " res religiosa " is in the process of reconquerring terrain in the secular city. This assertion, however, seems somewhat dubious. First because it is often based on nothing more than institutional forms of religious identity and social action when, in fact, the new form of ultramodern belief tends to suggest a weakening of institutional regulation, accompanied by an " individualisation and subjectivity of religious sentiment ". Less mobilizing, beliefs now register as " relative responses in the face of conjunctural needs which are known, by experience, to change ". Moreover, the idea of a " return of the religious " tends to take for granted a fixed, immobile public space. However, this symbolic space, due to the technical progress of communications, has considerably grown to the point that it encompasses what once belonged to the private arena.

 

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Anne Robineau

The New Social Strategies of Contemporary Artists

and the Use of the Sacred : the Case of the Millenium Symphony

On June 3, 2000, the Millenium Symphony, a musical creation directed by Walter Boudreau and Denys Bouliane, was performed at St. Joseph Oratory. Beyond the purely esthetic dimension of the work, a more symbolic dimension mixing history, art and religion was omnipresent. Being a major component of the work, the use of the sacred conferred an air of uniqueness in which the quality of a collective experience, amplified by the media, was brought to the fore. With reference to the studies on new religions, it can be observed that the need for the sacred and spirituality is still present in modern societies, despite the declining role of the Church in society. From this perspective, taking charge of this need becomes an important challenge for the community. For groups in quest of social legitimacy, the claim to somehow satisfy this need opens the road towards the reappropriation of symbols and the reconstruction of " gathering places ".

 

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Kristoff Talin

Virtuosos : from Action to Social Strategy.

The Example of Belgium and France

The aggiornamento of the Catholic Church in accordance with Council Vatican II was not accomplished without difficulties, and the impact of modernity on the Church has challenged not only its structures but also the diverse which it comprises : lay people, clerics and members of religious orders. It is especially the latter who are the focus of this article. The slump in vocations and a wave of departures during the seventies give a relatively bleak picture of religious life but remain nonetheless significant in determining the relationship between the Catholic Church and society. Within this perspective, this research equally addresses the fact that new forms of religious life have sprung up and remain viable within a Catholic landscape. Although obviously still too few, these new forms continue nonetheless to question the link between religious life and modern society. After identifying more precisely who we should consider as today’s " religious virtuosos ", we will investigate the social strategies of these contemporary forms of religiosity.

 

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Jean-Guy Vaillancourt

Social Strategies of Right-Wing Catholic Groups in Quebec

Social strategies of right-wing Catholic groups, in Quebec, whether conservative or integrist, resort to a number of methods, both traditional and modern, also used by other prescriptive organizations. Drawing its inspiration from typologies developped by religious sociology and psychosociology, this article examines the Sectarian and Church-type strategies brought into operation by conservative and integrist Catholic groups to recruit new members or get rid of undesirable ones. It also presents strategies used by these groups to control the socializing of their members, this time referring to a typology developped by its author himself in his essay Papal Power (1980). The second section of the paper finds its inspiration in some more recent theoretical and empirical studies, in the light of which it looks into the various strategies aimed by these groups at the " exterior " world : withdrawal from " the world ", attestation in or integration to society, more or less overt opposition to the mainstream Church and to society itself.

 

 

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Anne Fonteneau

Maternity in the Work of Anne Hébert :

An Illustration of Luce Irigaray’s Theories

Luce Irigaray posits that maternity is at once feminine alienation under a patriarcal regime, a sacred feminine experience of surpassing the self, and also the creation of a culture that can respond to feminine needs. These theories find their perfect illustration in the novels and plays of Anne Hébert where the heroines live their maternity either in happiness or suffering, in assumed celibacy or in a patriarchal couple. Not happy with the simple physical (pro)creation, they turn towards the past in order to create a feminine geneaology which, according to Luce Irigaray, is essential for the establishment of a truly feminine sexual identity.

 

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Eric Forgues

Towards a Symbolic Post-Structural Evolution

of the Social Sciences

The objective of this article consists in drawing out a perspective that approaches the symbolic dimension of human activity by the specific function that these symbols assume in the structure of consciousness. Despite a programmatic aim, this article does not presume to present a reflection that is complete or that has yet attained maturity, but rather to initiate an epistemological, methodological and theoretical construction that would be able to consider the symbolic dimension according to the irreductible exigencies which the structure of consciousness proposes. During the course of this reflection, the epistemology of the social sciences should be enriched by a new frame of reference permitting it to broach social transformations via three infrastructural axes : a technical axis (productivist paradigm), a moral and linguistic axis (communication paradigm) and a symbolic axis. The first two axes are associated with such notable names as Marx and Habermas. The last axis is, for its part, associated with such names as G. Durand, M. Eliade and C. G. Jung.

 

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