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What is Routinization of charisma?

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2009-02-01 09:30:32

The "routinization of charisma" is an expression dating from

German sociologist Max Weber's classic sociology of religion. A

prophetic leader attracts followers to his anti-traditional message

by his personal magnetism or force of personality, in short, his

"charisma." To keep a movement going after the death of the

original founder, however, that charisma must be "routinized," or

redirected to the continuing leadership and meaning of the

organization. The path of routinization is fraught with danger

since it by definition results in a formalization of the meanings

of the original movement, involving institutionalization, and the

formation of a new "tradition" and the potential for schism and new

"charismatic leaders" to emerge. As institutionalized religions

spread the teachings of their founders, there is a danger that more

energy will go into preserving the outer form of the traditions

than into maintaining their original inner spirit. A recent example

of the difficulty of routinization can be seen in the troubles

experienced by the Robert H. Schuller televangelism empire as it

has attempted to "routinize" the original charisma of the elder

Schuller and transfer its continuing authority to his son. See for

example "http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28953451/".


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