(Hoffer 1951) The true believer

Hoffer, Eric. The true believer. New York: Harper and Row; 1951.

In this classic study of the sociology of fanatical adherence to mass movements, Hoffer advances the thesis that believers are attempting to use their chosen causes to overcome personal inadequacies of one kind or another. He also emphasizes the synergy between persuasion and coercion in the induction of fanatical belief, quoting Goebbels: “A sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.”


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Last revision: April 5, 2013