AQA SCLY3 Beliefs in Society - Marxist theories of religion

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  • Marxist theories of religion
    • Religion as an ideology
      • Religion serves to reflect the ruling class ideas and interest
      • Controls economic production and production and distribution of ideas through institutions such as religion and media.
      • It's an ideological weapon used by the ruling class to legitimate the suffering of the poor as something inevitable and god-given
      • Creates false consciousness - distorted view of reality - which prevents the poor from changing their situation.
      • Lenin - describes religion as 'spiritual gin' whcih confuses the working class and keeps them in place. Manipulates them from attempting to overthrow capitalism by creating a 'mystical fog' that obscures reality.
      • Legitimates the power and previlege of the dominant class by making their position appear to be divinely ordained
      • Disobedience - illlegal and sinful challenge to God's authority.
    • Religion and Alienation
      • Marx sees religion as a product of alienation (being separated from or loosing control over something that one has produced or created).
      • Tha nature of work in a capitalist soceity cuts the worker off from themselves, others, their wotk and what they produce.
      • Religion acts as an opium which leads to temporary relief or their exploitation. But it masks the pain rather than resolve it. Therefore it promotes resignation than a search for means of changing the world.
      • Engles said religion is nothing but the fatalistic reflection in men's minds of those external forces which control their daily life.
      • Feuerbach saw the characteristics of God as nothing and the characteristics of man are projected beyond man into fatalism realm whom are thought to lead an independent existence.
    • Criticisms
      • Ignores positive functions of religion such as psychological adjustment to misfortune
      • Ideological manipulation can only explain why it takes certain emphasis and interpretations, it isn't a comprehensive analysis of religion.
      • Some Marxists like Althusser, reject the concept of alienation as unscientific. Makes the concept inadequate basis for theory of religion.
    • Althusser stated that religion is an ideological state apparatus, which spreads hegemony
  • Lenin - describes religion as 'spiritual gin' whcih confuses the working class and keeps them in place. Manipulates them from attempting to overthrow capitalism by creating a 'mystical fog' that obscures reality.
  • Legitimates the power and previlege of the dominant class by making their position appear to be divinely ordained
  • Disobedience - illlegal and sinful challenge to God's authority.

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