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NCJ Number: 179055 Find in a Library
Title: Comparison of Cults and Gangs: Dimensions of Coercive Power and Malevolent Authority
Journal: Journal of Gang Research  Volume:6  Issue:4  Dated:Summer 1999  Pages:1-39
Author(s): George W Knox Ph.D.
Editor(s): George W Knox Ph.D.
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 39
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper explores the similarity and differences between gangs and cults, with attention to the concepts of risky-shift phenomenon, the group-think effect, collective moral neutralization, and the dependency-critical thinking effect.
Abstract: Groups regarded as "cults" have much in common with groups regarded as "gangs" in modern American society. They are similar in that both groups restrict members' exercise of freedom in thought and belief; both demand unquestioning obedience from their members; both have self-appointed authoritarian leaders; and once persons join both types of groups, they tend to undergo certain predictable personality changes. Cults, like gangs, fall in the realm of deviance, and both types of groups encourage members to become situationally dependent on the "group identity." Both gangs and cults recruit members based on the human need to be accepted and be a part of a group that will affirm personal significance. The primary difference between cults and gangs is that cults have as their axial principle of organization some spiritual/religious/ideological belief system; gangs, on the other hand, are commonly perceived to have no such well-developed belief system. Further, gangs are more sinister in terms of the use of violence against their own members and those outside the gang. Disobedience in a cult occasions much less severe discipline, and violence against non-cult members is not common behavior for cult members. 2 figures and a 43-item selected bibliography
Main Term(s): Gangs
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Cults; Gang member attitudes; Gang violence; Juvenile gang behavior patterns; Organization studies
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=179055

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