5. Religion in a global context

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  • Religion in a global context
    • Religion an development
      • Globalisation: increasing interconnectedness between different societies around the world due to media, communication and transport
      • God and globalisation in India
        • Globalisation has brought rapid economic growth and India has become a more important player in the world political stage
        • NANDA
          • Rapid economic growth in India has been aided by Hinduism
          • The prosperous m/c are more religious than others
          • A new 'business-friendly' version of Hinduism has developed allowing people to pursue wealth without guilt that may have previously been associated with Hinduism
        • There has been government research based on Hindu beliefs about the healing powers of cow's milk and urine
      • Capitalism in East Asia
        • There has been rapid economic growth in the East Asian 'tiger economies'.
        • REDDING
          • The spirit of Capitalism in the tiger economy societies has developed as a result of 'post-Confucian' religious values which are similar to those of the Calvinists and encourage hard work and self-denial
      • Pentacostalism in Latin America
        • BERGER
          • Pentacostalism is a 'functional equivalent' to Weber's protestant ethic
          • It encourages the development of a rational business elite due its values of hard work, asceticism and frugality.
          • However, Berger highlights that it is not sufficient to have religious ideas alone to encourage economic growth; natural resources must also be available
        • LEHMANN
          • Globalisation has enabled a rapid extension of Pentacostalism. He argues that this has happened in 2 phases;
          • Initially pentacostalism was imposed in indiginous populations by invaders however in global society it has spread more naturally by gaining followers
          • It has been able to do this because it tends to adapt itself to incorporate existing features of local belief systems
    • Religious fundamentalism
      • GIDDENS
        • Globalisation has divided the world into 2 ways of thinking; fundamentalism and cosmopolitanism
        • Fundamentalists respond to the new ideas of globalisation by rejecting them and returning to more traditional values
        • Cosmopolitans will accept new ideas and embrace new ways of thinking
        • Whereas fundamentalist beliefs are based on religious teachings, cosmopolitan beliefs are based on rational arguments and are open to midification
      • BRUCE
        • Fundamentalism has developed as a response to the percieved threat to traditional values posed by globalisation
        • Only monotheistic  are likely to develop into fundamentalism because there is less scope for adaptations
        • Whereas in the West fundamentalism tends to be a response to change within society, in the Third world it is usually a reaction to changes being imposed from outside
      • BAUMAN
        • Fundamentalism is a response to globalisation and postmoderenity
        • CASTELLS: some poeple develop a resistant identity and retreat into fundamentalism whereas others develop a project identity where they embrace new ideas and engage with new social movements
      • EVAL
        • BECKFORD: they distinguish too sharply between cosmopolitan and fundamentalism, ignoring hybrid movements
        • They are fixated on fundamentalism, ignoring other important developments
        • Giddens lumps all types of fundamentalism together, ignoring important difference between them
        • Giddens' despcription of fundamentalism as a defensive reaction to modernity ignores the fact that reinventing tradition is also a modern 'reflexive' activity
    • Cultural defence
      • BRUCE: one function of religion in today's world is cultural defence
      • E.g. 1: Poland
        • When Poland was under communist rule, the Catholic church was supressed but acted as a rallying point and a source of resistance
        • The church lent its support to the solidarity free trade union movement and did much to bring about the downfall of communism
      • E.g. 2: Iran
        • In the 1950's the west was involved in overthrowing the Iranian government and replacing it with a pro-western regime which was focused on modernisation
        • The government banned the veil and replaced the Muslim calendar with a new one
        • Tha gap between the rich and poor widened and prtoest was brutally supressed
        • Islam became the focus for resistance and the clerics were vital in bringing about revolution and the new Islamic Republic in 1979
        • EVAL: HAYNES: the Iranian gov. revolution was not typical of politics in the Middle East, in that it was led by the Mullahs- the religious leaders
    • Religion and the 'clash of civilisations'
      • In recent years, religion has been at the centre of many globbal conflicts
        • There are now 7 'civilisations' in the world based on major world religions
        • Conflict between these civilisations has grown due to:
          • the fall of communism removing the importance of political differences,
          • the decline of the nation-state as a source of identity
          • the interconnectedness of these civilisations due to globalisation
        • EVAL: JACKSON: Huntington's work is an e.g. of orientalism- a western ideology that stereotypes Eastern nations and people as untrustworthy, inferior or fanatical and serves to justify exploitation and human rights abuse in the west


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