Gallagher's Cult Analysis

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The term “cult” according to Gallagher (2008:205), is currently the dominant classification for a type of religious group, and any group that is considered to be within this term is compared to a standard collection of examples that represents this category. Furthermore, Gallagher’s (2008:207) analysis of the conversation between Oprah Winfrey, Jeanine Bunds and Robyn Bunds suggests that there is a certain mentality of “us” and “them” that is present when talking about cults. I highly agree with this analysis, since when we talk about a cult we tend to depict them as the “other” and try and separate them from the general public. In addition, it is the notion that these individuals that are members of a cult are deviant from societal norms therefore…show more content…
According to Dawson (2008:9), there are three important features of charismatic authority. First, charismatic authority displays exceptional abilities (Dawson 2008:9)). Second, these exceptional abilities are thought to be divine or supernatural (Dawson 2008:9). Third, charismatic authority is highly personal and stems from a relationship with followers that is highly emotional (Dawson 2008:10). I highly agree with these three defining features of a charismatic leader, as these features were evident in Jim Jones as depicted in the film watched in class. Furthermore, Jim Jones was thought by his followers to have divine healing powers and the ability to fight against segregation and racism and focus on equality. Jones was also portrayed as being an exceptional being who would satisfy his followers needs by offering hope. It is through embodying these three features that creates a charismatic leader who is able to highly influence individual’s beliefs and motives by providing them with a leader that they can trust and be depended on. Dawson (2006:10) argues that, “followers believe statements made and ideas advanced by their leader simply because it is “he” who has made them”. This is evident in Jim Jones as he convinced a mass number of people to drink poison and end their life. A charismatic leader has the ability to highly influence their followers as they are thought to be a God-like figure. In addition, Dawson (2006:19) mentions that charismatic leaders take part in the process of impression management which involves, framing, scripting, staging and performing. I believe these four aspects of impression management is highly important and influential as it allows followers to be put into a context in which the charismatic leader is
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