Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1936-) B.A., Swarthmore, 1958; M.A., Columbia, 1960; Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (1964); currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology at the University of California at Davis.

Lofland has published extensively in the social movements literature and on a variety of other topics, often from an interactionist perspective. His most important contributions to the study of religion center on the process of conversion. In the sociology of religion, Lofland is best known for two scholarly works. The first, Doomsday Cult (Prentice Hall 1966), is an analysis of proselytization and conversion in what was then a fairly obscure new religious movement with origins in Korea that was brought to the United States in the late 1950s (the Unification Church). The second is a model of conversion developed with Rodney Stark (Lofland and Stark 1965). Others have tried applying the Lofland-Stark model to other types of movements to evaluate the adequacy of the model (e.g., Austin 1977, Snow and Phillips 1980), although Lofland (1978) has maintained that the conversion model was not meant for wider application but was intended as an example of how one might develop a conversion model for a particular movement.

Edward F. Breschel


R. Austin, "The Empirical Adequacy of Lofland's Conversion Model," Review of Religious Research 18(1977):282-287

J. Lofland, "Becoming a World-Saver Revisited," in Conversion Careers , ed. J. T. Richardson (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage, 1978): 10-23

J. Lofland, "Theory-Bashing and Answer-Improving in the Study of Social Movements," American Sociologist 24(1993):37-58

J. Lofland and J. T. Richardson, "Religious Movement Organizations," Research in Social Movements, Conflict and Change 7 (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI, 1984): 29-51

J. Lofland and N. Skonovd, "Conversion Motifs," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 20(1981):371-385

J. Lofland and R. Stark, "Becoming a World-Saver," American Sociological Review 30(1965):862-875

D. Snow and C. L. Phillips, "The Lofland Stark Conversion Model," Social Problems 56(1980):598-603.

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