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date: 15 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sociological analysis of conversion was once dominated by the Lofland-Stark model. However, recent research has moved beyond that model’s mostly micro-level approach. Studies of congregations, ritual, and embodied religion demonstrate the importance of social institutions. Other paradigms are now available too, such as the religious economies approach. In addition, it is now clear that social context, culture, globalism, and so on—macro-level factors, in other words—are of great consequence in conversion. Such contextual aspects need to be treated as the primary influence underlying conversion in some societies. China is a useful example of this, especially the rise of Christianity in China, which exhibits characteristics of a mass movement. In sum, this chapter presents the contemporary sociological study of conversion at three levels of analysis—micro, meso, and macro—and explores the advantages of each.

Keywords: conversion, mass movements, culture, congregations, ritual, embodied religion, religious economies, identity, globalism

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