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I need help figuring out topics to write a literature review about cults as a social problem?


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Cults are certainly in the cultural zeitgeist these days, making them a perfect topic for a literature review.  In fact, while many people think of cults as a relic from the experimentation that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, cults actually play a surprisingly large role in modern religion throughout the world.  What this means is that whether you are focusing on a specific cult, common traits of cult leaders, or what makes an individual susceptible to a cult’s influences, you are sure to find plenty of information out there. 

What differentiates cults from small religious sects?  Are these differences meaningful?  Is there an upper limit to the size range that makes a religion a cult?

How central are cult leaders to the establishment and maintenance of a cult?  Does removing a cult leader change the nature of the cult?  Is substituting a cult leader possible? 

What are the categories of modern cults?  Do all documented cults fit into one of these categories?  If not, what makes them outliers?

Are cults inherently religious?  Even if cults are not focused on religious beliefs, does the worship of a cult leader translate into religious-like behavior?

Are terrorist groups accurately described as cult groups?  If not, what are the factors that differentiate the two types of groups?

Do cults all have the same type of power structure?  If so, what are the features of that power structure?  If not, what are the various types of power structures one might observe in cults? 

What steps are necessary in cult deprogramming?  If the cult has widespread support in a region, what social steps can be taken to help with deprogramming? 

Cults often feature elements of abuse, particularly child sexual abuse.  Why would this aberrant behavior reinforce cult leader’s authority or a follower’s loyalty?

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