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Benjamin Zablocki

Benjamin Zablocki
Born (1941-01-19) January 19, 1941
Brooklyn, New York
Occupation Professor of Sociology

Benjamin Zablocki (born January 19, 1941) is an American professor of sociology at Rutgers University where he teaches sociology of religion and social psychology. He has published widely on the subject of charismatic religious movements, cults, and brainwashing.


  • Academic career 1
  • Selected Works 2
  • References 3

Academic career

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Zablocki received his B.A. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1962 and his Ph.D. in social relations from the Johns Hopkins University in 1967, where he studied with James S. Coleman.

Zablocki heads the Sociology department at Rutgers. He has published widely on the sociology of religion.[1][2][3]

Zablocki is a fervent supporter of what he calls 'the brainwashing hypothesis'. The question is not whether brainwashing exists, he asserts, but to what extent.[4] Other scholars, Zablocki notes, commonly mistake brainwashing for both a recruiting and a retaining process; it is merely the latter, however.[5] This misunderstanding enables critics of brainwashing to set up a straw-man, and thereby unfairly criticize the phenomenon of brainwashing.[5] For evidence of the existence of brainwashing, Zablocki refers to the sheer number of testimonies from ex-members and even ex-leaders of cults.[6] Zablocki further alleges that brainwashing has been unfairly "blacklisted" from the academic journals of sociology of religion. Such blacklisters, Zablocki asserts, receive lavish funding from alleged cults and engage in "corrupt" practices.[4]

Selected Works


  • The Joyful Community: An Account of the Bruderhof: A Communal Movement Now in Its Third Generation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1971, reissued 1980) ISBN 0-226-97749-8
  • Alienation and Charisma: A Study of Contemporary American Communes. New York: The Free Press. (1980) ISBN 0-02-935780-2
  • Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2001. w/ Thomas Robbins (Eds.) ISBN 0-8020-8188-6


  • The Blacklisting of a Concept: The Strange History of the Brainwashing Conjecture in the Sociology of Religion. Nova Religion, Oct. 1997
  • Methodological Fallacies in Anthony's Critique of Exit Cost Analysis, ca. 2002,
  • The Birth and Death of New Religious Movements ca. 2005


  1. ^ Lucas, Phillip Charles; Robbins, Thomas, eds. (2009). New Religious Movements in the Twenty-first Century: Legal, Political, and Social Challenges in Global Perspective. New York, New York: Routledge. p. 313.  
  2. ^ Oakes, Len, ed. (1997). Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities. Syracuse New York: Syracuse University Press. pp. 158–159.  
  3. ^ Antes, Peter; Geertz, Armin W.; Warne, Randi Ruth, eds. (2004). New Approaches to the Study of Religion Vol 1: Regional, Critical, and Historical. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. p. 428.  
  5. ^ a b Zablocki, Benjamin (2001). Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field. U of Toronto Press. p. 176.  
  6. ^ Zablocki, Benjamin (2001). Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field. U of Toronto Press. pp. 194–201.  
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