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The Rationale of Pillarization: The Case of Minority Movements

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Historians and sociologists have put forward several theories to explain the process of pillarization in Western Europe. One hypothesis suggests that the function of pillarization was the emancipation of minorities which suffered social discrimination. According to the political mobilisation hypothesis, pillars were erected to link the members of different constituent organisations to the political party which defended their rights and privileges. Finally, the preservation hypothesis suggests that the religiously pillarized organisational complexes emerged and developed to insulate religious people from a secularised world. The questions the author raises in this article address the extent to which pillars were erected in so-called sects and new religious movements, and the extent to which the functions which explain the emergence of Western European pillarization serve to explain the emergence of pillars in sects and new religious movements. Do we need additional or alternative hypotheses to explain their emergence?
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2000

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