Marxism: Religion and Change

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  • Created by: Anjalee
  • Created on: 16-12-12 20:12
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  • Marxism, Religion and Change
    • Marx sees religion as capable of humanising a world made inhumane by exploitation. Engels argues that religion also changes the status-quo and encourages social change.
    • Ernst Bloch: 'The principal of hope' Utopian images, effective political organisation and leadership can bring about social change.
    • Gramsci: religion and hegemony
      • Hegemony describes how the ruling class uses ideas to control the working class. However, he also notes that hegemony can help the proletariat have an alternative view.
    • Liberation Theology
      • Began in 1960's Latin America. Grew out of deepening rural poverty. It was pioneered by Priests who supported the poor; under protection of the church.(Social Change)
        • However, Pope John Paul II condemned liberation theology as it resembled Marxism. (Conservative Force)
    • Millenarian Movements
      • Religion may create the desire of a better world here and now. They appeal to the poor as it promises immediate improvement.
      • Local Gods/leaders lose credibility when people are forced to work for colonists who live in luxury
      • Worsley studied  'Cargo cults' in   Melanesia. Cargo cults asserted that the cargo was meant for the natives. Unjust social order was overturned  which threatened colonial rule. Religious ideas were used with traditional beliefs. Native populations  united in mass movements.
    • Maduro believes that religion can be a force for change.
    • Religion and class conflict
      • Dwight Billings studied coalminers and textile workers. He identified three ways which religion either supported or challenged employers' hegemony.
        • Organisation
          • Miners used independent  churches. Textile workers used 'company churches'.
        • Leadership
          • Miners were led by intellectuals who helped convert them to the union cause. Textile workers lacked leadership and were easily influenced by clergy who identified with employers.
        • Support
          • The Churches kept miners' morale high through sermons. The textile workers who joined the union were met with opposition from church leaders.


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