Theories of Religion

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  • Theories of Beliefs
    • Ideologies
      • Marxists see ideologies as a way of keeping people in their place.
        • I.e. Althusser and the ideological state apparatus.
      • Feminists believe ideology is used to oppress women.
    • Defining religion
      • Defining religion as a system of faith is more inclusive.
      • the functional definition focuses on the idea of community and integration
      • Not all religions are based on a belief in God or a higher power
    • Functionalism
      • Religion maintains harmony and social cohesion
      • Durkheim - sacred religious worship encourages shared values
      • Malinowski - religion manages tensions and promotes stability.
      • Religion helps to integrate people into a value consensus and allows thems to make sense of their lives.
      • Bellah - Civil Religion
      • Functionalism ignore the dysfunctional aspects of religion i.e. religious conflicts
    • Feminism
      • Women's role as a 'caregiver' is seen to be important in traditional religion
      • women are excluded from religious power
      • Religions historically portray women as the 'temptress'
      • Beauvoir - women are seen as 'second class citizens'
    • Postmodernist
      • Religious belief are changing to reflect society
      • People no longer believe in mettanarratives
      • Less people are attending church so its influence on society is less direct.
      • People now have more choice to create their own individual set of beliefs.
    • Marxism
      • religion helps to oppress workers and inhibit social change.
      • Opium of the masses
      • Religion consoles people with the promise of an afterlife.
      • Religion tells people that God put them in their position so they blame God for their class and not capitalism.


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