Globalization, Syncretism, and Identity

The Growth and Success of Self-Realization Fellowship


  • Thomas W. Segady Department of Sociology, Stephen F. Austin State University



Globalization, Syncretism, Identity, Self-Realization, Yoga, Religious charisma, Religious transformation, Routinization of charisma, Organizational stability


Paramahansa Yogananda founded Self Realization Fellowship in 1920 in Boston, which continued the work of Yogoda Satsanga in India. From its beginnings, it has grown to become an international organization with a rapidlyincreasing membership based in 178 countries. The explanations for this growth include, at the macro level: strong centralized administrative organization; consistency of message and mission; fostering an attitude of tolerance among other groups; and extraordinary success in solving the problem that Max Weber termed the “routinization of charisma.” Explanations at the micro level include: creation of a common identity among members; facilitating close and direct communication with members despite growth in numbers; and introducing members to an expanding base of knowledge. Through an integration of religions, this perspective allows for the implicit incorporation of beliefs that previously were not considered as religious, on the part of individuals.

Author Biography

Thomas W. Segady, Department of Sociology, Stephen F. Austin State University

Department of Sociology, Stephen F. Austin State University


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How to Cite

Segady, T. W. (2009). Globalization, Syncretism, and Identity: The Growth and Success of Self-Realization Fellowship. Implicit Religion, 12(2), 187–199.