Professor Eileen Barker OBE FBA

Professor Eileen Barker OBE FBA


Department of Sociology

About me

Eileen Barker, PhDhc (Copenhagen), FAcSS, FBA, OBE, is Professor Emeritus of Sociology with Special Reference to the Study of Religion. Her BSc (Soc) (Hons 1st class) and her PhD were obtained from the LSE. In 2011 she was elected as one of LSE’s Honorary Fellows

Her main research interest is 'cults', 'sects' and new religious movements, the changes they undergo and the social reactions to which they give rise. Since 1989 she has also been investigating changes in the religious situation in Eastern Europe, Japan and China.

She has over 350 publications, translated into 27 languages. These include the award-winning The Making of a Moonie: Brainwashing or Choice? and New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction.

She has given guest lectures at over 200 universities around the world, and is a familiar commentator on religious issues on both radio and television. She has been elected as an officer of most of the international organisations related to sociology of religion, being the first non-American to have been elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

In 1988, with the support of the Home Office and the mainstream Churches, she set up INFORM, an independent educational charity affiliated to LSE’s Sociology Department which supplies information about alternative religions that is as objective and up-to-date as possible. LSE students can have access to INFORM's unique resources.

Selected Publications

2017. “From Cult Wars to Constructive Cooperation – Well, Sometimes” in Eugene V. Gallagher (editor) The ‘Cult Wars’ in Historical Perspective. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. 9-22.

2017. “The Changing Scene: What Might Happen and What Might Be Less Likely to Happen?” in Eugene V. Gallagher (ed.) New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future. Farnham: Ashgate. Pp.7-19

2016. “From The Children Of God to The Family International: A Story of Radical Christianity and Deradicalising Transformation” in Stephen Hunt (ed.) the Handbook of Contemporary Christianity: Movements, Institutions & Allegiance. Leiden: Brill. 402-421.

2015. "Here, There and/or Anywhere? Minority Religions and their Migration In and Out of Britain." Czech and Slovak Journal of Humanities Anthropologica Culturalia March 1915:18-30.

2015. “New Religious Movements”. In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 16. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 805–808.

2015. "Freedom for Me and, Perhaps, You - but Surely Not Them? Attitudes to New Religions in Contemporary Democracies." in Religious Pluralism: A Resource Book, edited by Aurélia Bardon, Maria Birnbaum, Lois Lee, and Kristina Stoekl. San Domenico di Fiesole: European University Institute: 68-77.

2014. “The Not-So-New Religious Movements: Changes in ‘the Cult Scene’ over the Past Forty Years.” Temenos Vol. 50 No. 2 (2014), 235–56. 

2014. “New Religious Movements in the West: The Xu Yun Lecture, Peking University, World Religions Reviews, 2014: 8. Pp122-160. (In Chinese).

2013. "The Objective Study of the Subjective or the Subjective Study of the Objective? Notes on the Social Scientific Study of Religious Experience and the Social Construction of Reality,” Studies in Chinese Religions, 2013: 2:1-35.

2013. Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements. (Editor.) Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-6229-3

2013. "Confessions of a Curious Sociologist of Religion." Pp. 39-54 in Studying Religion and Society: Sociological Self-Portraits, edited by Titus Hjelm and Phil Zuckerman. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0—415-667985

2012. "Ageing in New Religions: The Varieties of Later Experiences (PDF)." Diskus: The Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religions 12.

2011. "Stepping out of the Ivory Tower: A Sociological Engagement in ‘The Cult Wars (PDF)." The Methodological Innovations Online 6(1):18-39.

2011. "Religion in China: Some Introductory Notes for the Intrepid Western Scholar." Pp. 109-32 in Social Scientific Studies of Religion in China: Methodology, Theories, and Findings, edited by Fenggang Yang and Graeme Lang. Leiden & Boston: Brill.

2011. "The Cult as a Social Problem." Pp. 198-212 in Religion and Social Problems, edited by Titus Hjelm. New York & London: Routledge.

2010. "Misconceptions of the Religious ‘Other’: The Importance for Human Rights of Objective and Balanced Knowledge." International Journal for the Study of New Religions. 1(1):5-25.

2009. "In God's Name: Practising Unconditional Love to the Death." Pp. 49-58 in Dying for Faith: Religiously Motivated Violence in the Contemporary World, edited by Madawi Al-Rasheed and Marat Shterin. London & New York: I.B.Tauris.

2008. "Preparing the Way: Conceptual Descriptions and Understandings of Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary China." in Beijing Summit on Chinese Spirituality and Society, edited by Fenggang Yang. Beijing: The Center for Studies of Chinese Religion and Society, Peking University.

2008. The Centrality of Religion in Social Life: Essays in Honour of James A. Beckford. (Editor). Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-6515 1

2007. Cult-watching groups and the construction of images of new religious movements. In: Bromley, D. G, (ed.) Teaching new religions movements. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 309-330. ISBN 9780195177299

2006. "What should we do about the Cults? Policies, Information and the Perspective of INFORM." Pp. 371-95 in The New Religious Question: State Regulation or State Interference? (La nouvelle question religieuse: Régulation ou ingérence de l'État?), edited by Pauline Côté and T. Jeremy Gunn. Brussels: Peter Lang.

2006. "We've got to Draw the Line Somewhere: An Exploration of Boundaries that Define Locations of Religious Identity." Social Compass 53(2):201-13. ISSN 0037-7686

2005. "Crossing the Boundary: New Challenges to Authority and Control as a Consequence of Access to the Internet." Pp. 67-85 in Religion and Cyberspace, edited by Morten Thomsen Højsgaard and Margit Warburg. London: Routledge.

2004. "The Church Without and the God Within: Religiosity and/or Spirituality?" Pp. 23-48 in Religion and Patterns of Social Transformation, edited by Dinka Marinović Jerolimov et al. Zagreb: Institute for Social Research.

2004. "What Are We Studying? A Sociological Case for Keeping the "Nova"." Nova Religio 8(1):88-102.

2004. “Why the cults? New religions and freedom of religion and beliefs.” In: Lindholm, Tore and Durham, W. Cole and Tahzib-Lie, Bahia, (eds.) Facilitating freedom of religion and belief: perspectives, impulses and recommendations from the Oslo Coalition. Kluwer, Dordecht NL.

2003. "And the Wisdom to Know the Difference? Freedom, Control and the Sociology of Religion (Association for the Sociology of Religion 2002 Presidential Address)." Sociology of Religion 64(3):285-307. ISSN 1069-4404

2003. Freedom and Religion in Eastern Europe (Editor). Special Issue of The Sociology of Religion 64/3 2003.

2002. “Rights and wrongs of new forms of religiosity in Europe.” Temenos,37/38.13-38.

2002. “The protection of minority religions in Eastern Europe.” In: Danchin, Peter G. and Cole, Elizabeth A., (eds.) Protecting the human rights of religious minorities in Eastern Europe. Columbia University Press, New York, USA, 58-86.

2002. “Watching for Violence: A Comparative Analysis of Five Cult-watching Groups.” In: Bromley, D. G. and Melton, J. G., (eds.) Cults, Religion and Violence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; New York, 123-148.

2001. “A general overview of the "cult scene" in Britain.” Nova Religio, 4 (2). 235-240.

2001. “New religious movements.” In: Smelser, Neil. J and Baltes, Paul. B and Sills, D. L, (eds.) The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier Science: Pergamon, Amsterdam, 10631-10634. ISBN 9780080430768

2001. “A comparative exploration of dress and the presentation of self as implicit religion.” In: Keenan, William. J. F, (ed.) Dressed to impress: looking the part. Dress, body, culture. Berg Publishing, Oxford, UK, 51-68.

2000. “The opium wars of the new millennium: religion in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.” In: Silk, Mark, (ed.) Religion on the international news agenda. Pew Program on Religion and the News Media, Hartford, Conn, 39-59.

1999. “But Who's Going to Win? National and Minority Religions in Post-communist Society.” The Scientific Journal Facta Universitatis, 2 (6). 49-74.

1999. "New Religious Movements: Their Incidence and Significance." Pp. 15-31 in New Religious Movements: Challenge and Response, edited by Bryan Wilson and Jamie Cresswell. London: Routledge. 15-32. ISBN 9780415200509 

1998. "State Imposed Secularism: Yet Another Dimension?" Pp. 191-210 in Secularization and Social Integration, edited by Rudy Laermans, Bryan Wilson, and Jaak Billiet. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

1995. “The Scientific Study of Religion? You Must be Joking!” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol.34 no.3, 1995: 287-310.

1995. LSE on Freedom. (Editor) London, Hamburg, New Brunswick: LSE Books, LIT Verlag, Transaction.

1994 The Making of a Moonie: Brainwashing or Choice? Aldershot: Ashgate ISBN 0 7512 0136 7. [first published Blackwell (Oxford) 1984].

1993. "Charismatization: The Social Production of `an Ethos Propitious to the Mobilization of Sentiments'." Pp. 181-202 in Secularization, Rationalism and Sectarianism, edited by Eileen Barker et al, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1989. New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction. London: HMSO.  TSO Shop

1983. Of Gods and Men: New Religious Movements in the West. (Editor) Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

1982. New Religious Movements: A Perspective for Understanding Society. (Editor). New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-11-340927-3.

1979. "In the Beginning: The Battle of Creation Science against Evolutionism." Pp. 179-200 in On the Margins of Science, edited by Roy Wallis. Keele, Staffordshire: Keele University Press


Religion; New Religious Movements (NRMs); ‘Cults’