Jim Jones: A Charismatic Leader

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Charisma is a special quality that one attains, it allows one to connect with individuals and develop special bonds with them. According to Dawson (2006:2), a charismatic leader is a crucial element to new religious movements. They attract followers who are obedient and faithful to their beliefs and instructions (Dawson 2006:10). A leader that exudes charisma and has been highly successful in creating special bonds is Jim Jones. Jones was the leader and founder of the Peoples Temple and responsible for the mass number of deaths in Jonestown. To begin with, Dawson (2006:9) argues that there are three essential features of a charismatic leader, “first, charismatic authority is rooted in the display of exceptional abilities by an individual”. …show more content…
Furthermore, impression management involves four processes; framing, scripting, staging, and performing (Dawson 2006:19). First, Jim Jones as a charismatic leader took part in ‘framing’, as his guiding vision was equality and diversity, which shaped the collective meaning of being his follower (Dawson 2006:19). This guiding vision provided his followers with the notion that they were contributing to a certain cause, which is part of the ‘framing’ process. Therefore, Jones played on the emotional anxiety of his followers in order to establish himself as a powerful leader. Second, Jones took part in ‘scripting’ as he provided his follower with guidelines for how his vision is to be executed (Dawson 2006:19). He persuaded his followers to move to Guyana in order to fulfil his vision of equality, where they would build a community apart from the oppression from the government. Jones told his followers where to live and what to do, he was continually directing his followers. He also directs himself, as he puts himself at the center of the stage while everyone faces and listens to him. This allows him to show his follower that he is powerful and confident through non-verbal cues and body language. In addition, ‘scripting’ suggests that charismatic leaders use rhetorical strategies such as repetition of metaphors in order to “…set a common and dramatic discourse for the group” (Dawson 2006:19). Jones did this by repeating such things as you need to believe what you see and telling his followers he can be whatever his followers saw him as. Third, Jones particles ‘staging’ as he utilized props such as the Bible, manipulated his setting and used artificial displays of miraculous healing to show that he was powerful. Lastly, ‘performing’ in where all these four processes of impression

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