The questions of the contemporary man seem to find answers in the variety of rites, beliefs and precepts of new religious groups. But sects are not a recent phenomenon: over the course of many centuries their story has been interwoven with that of the major religions from which they claim their origins, in a continuing process of dispute, separation, and reconstruction of symbols and hierarchies. To understand what a sect is and how it comes into being, to understand the reasons of its success, appeal, and above all, how it degenerates into absurdity: because, aside from prejudices and fears, it is represented as an important offering in the "market of faith" of the contemporary society.
Enzo Pace teaches sociology at the University of Trieste and sociology of religion at the University of Padova.
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