Gerlach and Hine

Gerlach and Hine
Back in the 70’s Gerlach and Hine undertook a sociological study of the Black Panthers and the Pentecostals. In their ground-breaking work, here’s how they defined and described a movement.

“A movement is a group of people who are organized for, ideologically motivated by, and committed to a purpose which implements some form of personal or social change; who are actively engaged in the recruitment of others; and whose influence is spreading in opposition to the established order within which it originated.”

1. Organization
A segmented, usually polycephalous [many headed], cellular organization composed of units reticulated [connected] by various personal, structural and ideological ties.
2. Recruitment
Face-to-face recruitment by committed individuals using their own pre-existing, significant social relationships.
3. Commitment
Personal commitment generated by an act or experience which separates a convert in some significant way from the established order (or his previous place in it), identifies him with a new set of values, and commits him to changed patterns of behavior.
4. Ideology
An ideology which codifies values and goals, provides a conceptual framework by which all experiences or events relative to these goals may be interpreted, motivates and provides rationale for envisioned changes, defines the opposition, and forms the basis for conceptual unification of a segemented network of groups.
5. Opposition
Real or perceived opposition from the society at large or from that segment of the established order within which the movement has arisen.

Gerlach and Hine, “People, power, change;: Movements of social transformation”


  1. Read through Luke-Acts. How would you adapt Gerlach and Hine to describe the early Christian movement?
  2. How do we get back there?
  3. When did you last use “polycephalous” in a sentence?
  4. Read Pierson, Snyder and myself on the characteristics of a movement.

Technorati Tags: Movements


  1. Posted 12 January, 2006 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Your posts and information are quite challenging. Perhaps I need to read your blog a bit later in the afternoon when I am functional and mentally awake. I love the questions you posed in this particular post, especially in the context of planting a church that looks like the church is supposed to as modeled by the Acts church. While it is impossible to duplicate as it was a different time, different culture, and different social condition, the nuts and bolts of how they formed church, held close to each other, and utlimately shared all things in relation to needs, it is doable and modelable.

    All I have to do now is to a team willing to be polycephalous and not key to much on acephalous types who are not interested in the community. There. I tried to use it in a sentence.

  2. Posted 16 January, 2006 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Tony, thanks for the feedback and well done on polychephalous! But is it acephalous (headless) types who aren’t interested in community or the monocephalous (one headed)? Perhaps people who gather in cliques could be called olicephalous (few headed)?

2 Trackbacks

  1. By BlogRodent » Is the Assemblies of God a cult? on 30 January, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    […] I’m grateful to Steve Addison’s weblog for providing this succinct quote from Luther P. Gerlach and Virgina H. Hine, authors of People, power, change: Movements of social transformation, a sociological study of the Black Panthers and Pentecostals: […]

  2. […] of social movement success is markedly different from the structural theories of scholars who for four decades have studied aspects of interpersonal and interorganizational relationships within and reaching out […]

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