Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

Table of Contents | Cover Page  |  Editors  |  Contributors  |  Introduction  |  Web Version


A term first proposed in 1956 by Anthony F. C. Wallace of the University of Pennsylvania to encompass such variously labeled social movements as nativistic movements, millenarian movements, reformative movements, and cargo cults because, he suggested, all possess a similar processual structure.

All these movements constitute deliberate, organized attempts by some members of society to create a more satisfying culture. All seek to undermine existing institutions with the intention of bringing about a new and meaningful integration through manipulation of the world. Wallace asserted that all religions come into existence as parts of revitalization movements and that whenever conditions of individual or social stress exist, a prophet emerges with a new cultural paradigm that, if accepted, becomes the basis for a new social reality or new social order. He delineated the sequence of development in revitalization movements as follows: (1) a steady state of culture, (2) a period of individual stress, (3) a period of cultural distortion, (4) a revitalization, and (5) the establishment of new steady state of culture.

Stephen D. Glazier


A. F. C. Wallace, "Revitalization Movements," American Anthropologist 58(1956):264-281.

return to Encyclopedia Table of Contents

Hartford Institute for Religion Research   hirr@hartsem.edu
Hartford Seminary, 77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105  860-509-9500