Deprivation Theory and Iranians’ Propensity for New Religious Movements: A Case Study on Inclination toward Eckankar in Tehran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD student, Religious Studies, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran

2 Assistant professor, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran

3 Assistant professor, Religious Studies, University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran.



New spiritualism is a worldwide phenomenon influenced by religious, political, and cultural developments across the globe. Existing studies on the origins of this phenomenon often examine factors such as advancements in communication technology, the impact of modernity, intellectual and doctrinal challenges faced by established religions, and collective demands for the protection of freedom of belief and religion. However, these analyses typically operate on a macro level, overlooking the individual agents themselves. In this article, we present a micro-level analysis, focusing on a specific facet of the new religious movement—the inclination towards Eckankar in Tehran. Our approach draws on deprivation theory as we delve into the minds of the agents to gain a nuanced understanding of why there is a leaning towards this particular movement. Unlike previous studies, we concentrate on the individual experiences of those drawn to Eckankar, conducting in-depth interviews and exploring available sources. The data reveals that these agents perceived a gap and a sense of deprivation in at least one aspect of their individual and social lives. Consequently, their conversion to Eckankar can be seen as an attempt to address and compensate for this feeling of deprivation.


Main Subjects

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