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Sect Appeal: Rethinking The Class-Sect Link

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Chapter Summary

This chapter begins with a short recounting of some established theories, and then cites some recent studies that suggest a weakening class-sect link in the U.S. Sects often start with lower class adherents because they are adaptable, grass-roots religious movements that tend to have democratic polity, and this is attractive to the poor, particularly in Protestant America. The class-sect link endures, not primarily because poor people are uniquely attracted to strict rules or otherworldly compensators, but because socialization, investment, and relational networks preserve the link. People stay with the group not only because they have collected capital in the group (Myers 2000), but because their relational networks constrain their choices. The chapter presents some additional class-sect links that better account for the flexibility of the class-sect link. Additional links give a more sufficient explanation of the complex causes that connect class and sect, even though this list is not exhaustive.

Keywords: class-sect link; democratic polity; Protestant America



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