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Berger points out that every culture has developed ways of dealing with big questions (e.g.
the taking of life) in order to prevent anxiety and social disruption. He refers to these beliefs
as a 'sacred canopy'.

What is religion?

Sociological approaches…

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2. Those who see religion as a force for social change Supporters of this position point to
the role of religion in encouraging societies to change.

Functionalists tend to see change as a 'good' thing whereas Marxists view it as a 'bad'

Functionalist approaches

Durkheim argued that totemism represents…

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Church attendance is declining in most Western societies. It is difficult to see how religion
can be functioning to socialise the majority of society's members into morality and social
integration, if only a minority of people regularly attend church.
Some argue that Durkheim's evidence is flawed. He misunderstood both totemism…

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poor concentrates on the afterlife. Also, some traditional Marxists adopt the view that
religion can bring about social change.

Evidence to support Marxist views

Leach is critical of the Church of England because it recruits from what is essentially an
upper class base (80% of bishops were educated at public…

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The influence of religious leadership on social change

According to Weber, religious and other authority takes one of three forms:

1. Charismatic People obey a religious leader because of their personal qualities. Well
known charismatic leaders include Jesus and Hitler.
2. Traditional Those who exercise authority do so because they…

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Where religion is central to the culture of a society, then anyone wishing to change that
society is more likely to use religion to help them bring about that change. In India, for
example, Gandhi used the Hindu concept of sarvodaya (welfare for all) to attack British
colonial rule,…

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Post modernity and organised religion

According to Lyotard, postmodern society is characterised by a loss of confidence in meta
narratives the 'grand' explanations provided by religions, politics, science etc.
This has led to what Bauman calls a 'crisis of meaning'. Traditional religions seem unable
to deal with this crisis. Take,…

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The emergence of new religious movements (NRMs)

It is estimated that there may now be as many as 25 000 new religious groups in Europe
alone, over 12 000 of whose members reside in the UK.

Difficulties in measuring affiliation to NRMs…

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Research suggests that these are more common amongst middleaged, middleclass
groups often in people who are disillusioned and disenchanted with material values.
One example of worldaffirming groups is The Church of Scientology.

Worldrejecting groups

These organisations are usually sects, in so far as they are always highly critical of the…

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1. Audience cults involve little facetoface interaction. Members of the 'audience' are
unlikely to know each other. Contacts are maintained mostly through the mass media and
the internet as well as occasional conferences e.g. astrology.
2. Client cults offer particular services to their followers. They have led to a proliferation…




Thank u so much this was reallly useful! 5 stars

Aneela Bibi


Thanks! This is a great resource. Gave it 5 stars.

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