Cybersectarianism - As An Organizational Type

As An Organizational Type

The term, as coined by political scientist Patricia M. Thornton at the University of Oxford, describes "a unique hybrid form of politico-religious mobilization" adopted by a handful of syncretic qigong (气功) groups that emerged in the People's Republic of China (PRC) during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and were subjected to extreme repression following the crackdown against banned religious and spiritual organizations in 1999.

Cybersectarianism as an organizational form involves: "highly dispersed small groups of practitioners that may remain largely anonymous within the larger social context and operate in relative secrecy, while still linked remotely to a larger network of believers who share a set of practices and texts, and often a common devotion to a particular leader. Overseas supporters provide funding and support; domestic practitioners distribute tracts, participate in acts of resistance, and share information on the internal situation with outsiders. Collectively, members and practitioners of such sects construct viable virtual communities of faith, exchanging personal testimonies and engaging in collective study via email, on-line chat rooms and web-based message boards."

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