New religions and alternative spiritualities

The religious landscape in the West has changed significantly over the last hundred years or so. While the emergence of new religions and alternative spiritualities is not a recent phenomenon, the previous century, particularly since the 1960s, witnessed a remarkable proliferation of new religious trajectories. Factors such as increased travel, advances in global communication, and the virtual worlds of cyberspace have made available a bewildering variety of options for religious seekers. In this module we aim to enable you to understand what is taking place in this territory. Through an analysis of established organisations (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses) and contemporary developments (e.g. Paganism and UFO religions), you will be introduced to a number of theoretical perspectives and issues, such as violence, millennialism, gender, and charismatic leadership. We aim to make this an enjoyable module, in which you will be encouraged to incorporate case study research in your work.