The task this term is to complete an investigation to better understand the characteristics and purpose of New Religious Movements in contemporary society (NRM).

Academic Study gives only one perspective of a religion or NRM and the way its membership and rituals are significant for the community in establishing belief, values, identity etc.

An Investigative study of a cult or sect and its community enables us to describe the experiences of the INSIDER while analysing the experience and the implications for contemporary society.

Task 1:

Find two definitions of an investigative study and with a partner discuss what is studied and how it is studied.

What does it mean to investigate a New Religious Movement?

In the context of this investigation we will be looking at human culture and specifically the culture of a NRM and its implications for contemporary society.

Culture: is a shared, learned, symbolic system of values, beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behaviour.

Religion is a system of beliefs, values, ritual practices that is the lived experience of a community and New Religious Movements draw upon these elements in a number of ways to create a sense of meaning for their adherents.

New Religious Movements occur all over the world

You need to be analytical in your research and systematic in your recording of material.

There is scientific description which is objective (no personal pronouns or biases), detailed and precise, categories or features are applied and evaluated.

The systematic recording is organised data collection where references are key.

For the purpose of this course, an investigation into NRMs is a method of study and inquiry that examines the religious culture [beliefs, ritual practices, values and lifestyle etc] of specific communities by engaging in observations and research to gain information about the identity and life of the adherent/community.

It involves gathering any ‘primary source’ documents available to increase ‘insider’ data for analysis.

This is a form of research focusing on close observation of a religious phenomenon and its implications for the wider community.

Habit of Mind - Listening with Empathy and Understanding

The challenge is to describe the experiences of the insider while analysing the experience and evaluating the implications of such phenomena for modern living.


Read the guidelines for the task carefully.

Note the elements of the task that need ‘judging’. From this ‘process of judging’ an hypothesis is formed.

Read the criteria sheet carefully.

The Investigation and Inquiry Process

View the following video clips that summarise the Inquiry Process.

Framing your Investigative Case Study

In this section of your research journal you should include:

A concept/mind map of the different elements of the question.

Definitions of terms used in the question.

Focus Questions for research.

A working bibliography/reference list.


In this section you need to show how you have researched information relevant to the task. It should include background reading [using basic texts] on the NRM you have selected.

What is theNRM?

What are the ceremonies and rituals of the NRM? Their symbol systems?

What are the stories of the NRM?

What are the beliefs associated with the NRM?

Reasoning and Evaluation

Several different kinds of research and analysis are needed.

Library Research

You should continue reading texts to add ‘depth’ of knowledge and understanding to the background reading completed earlier in the process.

You should ANALYSE [reason] the information you collect. For example,

what are the links between the outer actions and inner meanings of the symbol systems used in the NRM’s ceremonies

Ask yourself about the appropriateness and/or relevance of these ceremonies and symbols for contemporary society

You should collect and collate the primary ‘insider’ data from your viewing. You should record your observations of the rituals and ceremonies of your chosen NRM.

Your should ANALYSE [reason] this information. For example,

What was the STRUCTURE of the ritual?

Was its symbol system traditional or ‘audience appropriate’ and why?

Did the symbol system ‘engage the community’?


Draw conclusions from the data collected.

Define your hypothesis [JUDGMENT + REASON]’

Note down KEY CONCLUSIONS you will present in your report and the KEY EVIDENCE that you would use to argue these conclusions and justify your hypothesis.

Evaluate your research process – do you need to go back and ‘research the gaps’ in evidence etc.

NOW, you should be ready to PLAN your response.


What have I learnt from this investigation?

What have I learned about my own research and analytical skills

What have I learned about research that asks the ‘insider’ for their perspective?

What have I learned about the effectiveness of my investigation and how it could have been improved?

What have I learnt about the importance of BELONGING and a search for MEANING in contemporary society?


What to submit with your final submission

A hard copy of your report.

A Turnitin receipt – attached to your report.

A completed research journal. This may be in your Class OneNote but MUST BE COMPLETED.

[Note: including photocopies and printouts of material that have not been annotated or evaluated in a series of note form statements or colour coded to reflect an analytical idea etc. does NOT represent good research.]


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