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What is Routinization of charisma?


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February 01, 2009 9:30AM

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 "".