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Summary: Movements and Exclusive Organizations

Movements and exclusive organi­zations define their own inde­pendent character by the rules they set up and the values they embody. To grow, they must recruit new members. To maintain themselves, they must enforce discipline.

Exclusive groups often use initiation rituals or symbolic access to shared mysteries for social bonding. Military and paramilitary organizations try to harden new recruits, often stripping them of their individuality, infantalizing them symbol­ically them before toughening them up.

Corporations and other non-military groups use their own techniques for assimilating or onboarding new mem­bers. Research shows new recruits are best retained in these organizations when they are provided with clear roles, social support, and knowledge of institutional culture and requirements.

All organizations must maintain coher­ence by enforcing rules and disciplining rule-breakers. The ultimate punishment, in a wide variety of organizations, is expulsion.

Charismatic movements, known as cults in the 1970, are now widely known as NRMs (for New Religious Movements). However, not all cult-like organi­zations are religious. The phrase "charismatic movement" is often used for non-reli­gious groups organized around a dominating leader.

Groups referred to as cults in popular media are characterized by a powerful founding leader who is considered god-like or indispensible. Such movements often discourage contact with people outside the group.

In the 1970s, a rise in new religious cults led some families to kidnap cult mem­bers for "deprogramming." That practice was discontinued after several lawsuits.

Charismatic leadership can also occur outside the context of fanatical move­ments. In business or industry, a charis­matic leader is one who inspires the organization, setting lofty goals or aspirations.

Members of exclusive groups provide comfort and sometimes ecstatic celebrations for members. If religious, they promise ultimate rewards.

Groups can unite people who identify with types of music, artistic forms, or trance-inducing drugs. Dancing is used by religious and secular groups all over the world for celebrations.

Eric Hoffer pointed out in The True Believer that members of fanatical movements tend to demonize some group in the outside world. This helps unify the group and may also serve as a rallying point for acts of charity toward in-group members.

Industrial/Organization psychology is a specialized form of social psychology applied to businesses, corporations, and other workplaces. In today's fast-chang­ing economic environment, organiza­tional psychologists study how organi­zations adapt and change.

The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen was very influential in bringing new attitudes to businesses in the West. It typifies newer organizational approaches that attempt to optimize manufacturing for workers and management alike.

21st Century management practices are different from what took place historically in labor/management relations. Mana­gers now seek to cooperate with workers to improve workplace practices.

Self-management is increasingly com­mon; this occurs when employees are given responsibility to set their own goals. Work teams are used for this, and they may also rotate different responsibil­ities among members.

Human factors psychology is the study of machine/human interactions. Research into Human Factors helps to insure that machines, technologies, and consumer products are convenient to operate.


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


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