1. (noun) A relatively small group that excessively controls its members, whom share set of acts and practices which require unwavering devotion, and are considered deviant (outside the norms of society), and typically led by a charismatic and often self-appointed leader.
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- Plural: cults
- The definition of cult is contested, particularly the difference between a cult and a religion. Importantly, a cult as sociologically defined does not need to be religiously based (i.e., health, philosophy, politics, therapeutic) but requires “religious” devotion.
- Cults are typically hierarchical, that uses formal and informal practices to socialize members. Often, cults work similarly as pyramid schemes and grooms vulnerable people to join through coercion and peer pressure.
- Cultbusters try to stop cults.
- Cybercults are Internet-based cults.
- Cult figures (e.g., cult leaders) have a cult following.
- Works of art can achieve cult status.
- Also called religious cult.
- A (noun) cultist is a member of cult and a practitioner of (noun) cultistism with (adjective) cultic or (adjective) cultish or (adjective) cult-like beliefs.
- Also called a cultus.
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How to Cite the Definition of Cult
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “cult.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/cult/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
cult. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/cult/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “cult.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/cult/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“cult.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 27 Jun. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/cult/>.