, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 287-310

Charisma, crowd psychology and altered states of consciousness

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This paper argues that an interpretive meaning-centered analysis is not adequate for understanding collective behavior that is outside the range of calculating rationality. Alternative approaches to collective irrational action are drawn from the work of Weber and Durkheim, as well as from the crowd psychologists Le Bon and Tarde. These approaches are then illustrated in a short analysis of the trajectories and recruitment techniques of two contemporary American religious annunciations: est and Scientology, and the findings applied to the general social formation.