chapter  11
28 Pages

THE PERCEPTION OF TIME AND SPACE IN EGALITARIAN SECTS: A MILLENARIAN COSMOLOGY Steve Rayner

The argument in this paper is that the interesting question at the level of general explanation must be: How is millenarianism possible? The answer exploits the prediction made by grid and group classification that each social environment must have its own distinctive cosmology. I argue that it is only possible collectively to maintain millenarian beliefs in a social environment in which it is possible collectively to foreshorten historical time and compress geographical space. (These are seen as logical conditions of millenarianism.) In terms of grid and group, these conditions can only exist within a strong group boundary and increase in likelihood as the grid weakens and provides fewer points of historical and spatial differentiation.