Religion and Social Stability

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  • Religion and Social Stability
    • Functionalism
      • Durkheim (1912) said that religion teaches people norms and values they need tp stick to the collective conscience
        • Therefore he saw the conservative nature of religion in a positive light, encouraging social harmony
        • It means that society is safe from rapid social change, such as revolution, which would bring about anomie, leading to a breakdown in social order
      • Durkheim was not entirely opposed to social change
        • He recognized that slow change is necessary to prevent a society becoming stagnant and to allow it to progress
          • For example: a steady rise is social status of women in Western societies over the past 100 years has allowed them to play a fuller part in public life, which benefits the whole of society
    • Feminism
      • Many feminists assert that religion socialises women to conform to patriarchal norms
      • Religious texts proclaim male superiority, placing women in a subordinate position
        • For example; it is asserted in the Koran that "men are in charge of women ... hence good women are obedient"
          • Feminists disagree, therefore, with the functionalist view that in maintaining the STATUS QUO, religion benefits society as a whole.
            • They argue that women do not benefit, as they are oppressed in the male-dominated world advocated by traditional means.
              • Men use religious texts to legitimate women's subordination and preserve their own social change
    • Marxism
      • Marx (1957) though that religion is a tool employed by the ruling class to prevent mass rebellion that would free the working class from bring wage slaves
        • His view is therefore opposite to that of the functionalists. He believed that radical social change would transform society into a communist utopia
      • Religion is a device for starving off this revolution
      • It is used in this way by the elite because they alone benefit from society staying just as it is
      • Classless communism would mean that economic resources would be shared equally, which clearly threatens the ruling-class monopoly on wealth and power


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