Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department

School of Communication Studies

Advisor(s)

Lindsey Harvell-Bowman

Matthew Brigham

Jared Featherstone

Abstract

Cults are a unique aspect of modern and past society, and their study is driven by questions of persuasion and communication. One of the key critiques against cults is their use of coercion and persuasive messaging to recruit new members. This study examines the rhetorical methods used by two groups labeled as cults, the Twelve Tribes and Full Circle, and the Cult Information Centre, an anti-cult group, on their public website domains. These specific groups were chosen because they are understudied and lesser-known with few publications about their practices. This study uses a traditional Burkean analysis of rhetorical methods through an ethical lens. The study found that groups often share the same goal, but their motivation, ethical usage, and implementation of ethical strategies vary greatly. The implications of this study show that in ethical rhetorical methods must be motivated by good intentions, untarnished by coercion and groupthink, and based on sound logic and clarity of thought.

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