Czech Social Sciences and the New Religious Movements: Liaisons Dangerous

Jan Kalenda, Tomáš Karger, Jiří Poslt


The aim of this study is to analyze the approaches social scientists to the emergence of new religious movements in Czech Republic through the past 20 years. The study focuses on how the Czech social scientists have dealt with the given phenomenon, or more precisely, with one of its representatives – the Czech branch of the Unification Church. We reconstruct the mutual relationship between the social science and one of its objects of study, based on the discursive analysis of media representation of this group on the one hand and of scientific reflection of the group on the other. These data are complemented by biographical interviews with the members of the Unification Church. Following this analysis we argue, that for the most of the 1990's, the typical reaction (including that of researchers) was negative – and reflected predominantly on the intensive recruitment activities of the group. The period after the year 2000 is, on the contrary, characteristic by withdrawal from strong positions of refusal and a tendency towards a more pluralistic form of description of the group.


unification church, discourse analysis, biographical interview, double hermeneutics, metatheory

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