Soft charisma as an impediment to fundamentalist discourse
The case of the Anthroposophical Society in Sweden
Keywords:Anthroposophy, Anthroposophical Society in Sweden, charismatic leadership
The Anthroposophical Society in Sweden is, in the view of many of its members, going through tough times. Times of crisis and the search for a collective identity often inspire the formation of ideological rifts within a larger religious community. One way of responding to challenges is by turning to doctrines and texts stemming from a purportedly pristine past for guidance – in other words, by developing a fundamentalist discourse. A striking fact about the Anthroposophical Society, in Sweden as well as internationally, is that such returns to a set of canonical texts by the founder of the movement appear to be self-defeating. There are deeply rooted structural features within the Anthroposophical Society as an institution that impede any one voice from gaining significant traction and imposing a collective identity upon the movement. This article uses the example of the Anthroposophical Society in Sweden and the conundrum it repeatedly faces when addressing a perceived crisis in order to formulate a model of charismatic leadership that more generally accounts for the lack of success of fundamentalist discourses in religious movements with certain types of organisational culture.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Karen Swartz, Olav Hammer
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