Syncretic Processes and the definition of the new religions

A.F. Droogers, S.M. Greenfield

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This paper presents a model that we suggest makes it possible to identify, bound, and set off new religions. We begin from the perspective of the scholar, which we extend to include the discourses of those written about and the relationship between the two. After setting out some epistemological issues related to the study of science and arguing that in contrast with the natural sciences where a single paradigm tends to dominate thinking and research at any point in time, in the social sciences, multiple partial images of the world tend to prevail simultaneously, some recent contributions in areas as diverse as praxis theory, cognitive anthropology, and postmodernism are reviewed. Praxis approaches are then related to thinking about the relationship between the local and the global in terms of economics, the state, and entrepreneurship. After a brief examination of the diversity of the actors who participate in religious activities, a model of what we call the 'syncretic process' is developed that enables us to propose when a new religion comes into being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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