The social-scientific study of religion is concerned with the ways in which religions interact with society and the impacts these organizations can have on the world. This thesis draws on the work of sociologists and religious studies scholars to pay mind to what is arguably the most controversial and popular new “religion.” Scientology has existed since the 1950s and has continued on a path toward world domination long after its founder died in 1986. Delineating Scientology as anything but a genuine, traditional “religion” and rather as a cult is the main purpose of this study. Through six chapters with topics ranging from the attitudes of current members compared to ex-members, the social context surrounding Scientology’s rise, to media representations of Scientology, the hope is one can gain a comprehensive perspective on the many ways Scientology fulfills the criteria of cult. With two chapters dedicated entirely to the two men at the heart of Scientology, founder L. Ron Hubbard and current leader David Miscavige, the way power functions within this organization becomes clear. This thesis argues for the cult status of Scientology primarily but ultimately argues Scientology represents a need to study powerful, global organizations and their power closely.
McPhillips, Mark, "The Sociology of Scientology: Power, Charisma, and What Keeps Scientology Working" (2020). Sociology Honors Papers. 9.
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