Beliefs in Society Revision Guide - SCLY3

This is a revision guide I made for myself for the beliefs exam, i used class notes and the Collins revision guide to make it. There is a list of questions at the end to test yourself on after you've read though if that's your kinda thing! Ignore some of the random comments throughout, it was the only way to get through making this thing with some sanity left! Also I used such a strange font because using an unfamiliar font is supposed to help you remember better, but obviously feel free to change it if you dont like it!

Enjoy :)

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Beliefs in society
Ideas on Belief Systems, Ideology and Science:
What is a belief s ystem ?
A set of ide as th at i nflue nce h ow you see the world , they
can be religi ous, spiri tual, pol itical and sci entif ic.
P olyani sa id a be lief sys tem must be made up o f 3 main
factors: A c i rcula tory o f b el iefs, s u pporti ng
explanations a r e g iven f or d iff icult s itua tions a nd n o
alternative b elie f s ys tems c a b e t olerat ed. H is
particular f oc us w as s cience a s h e s aid s c ience i s a
belief system as i t can fit all 3 of t hese fac tors.
What are religious beli ef sy stems ?
U sually a r eli giou s b eli ef s y stem i s b ased a round a
belief in a s upern atura l ent ity or for ces.
S ome religio ns ar e mon othei stic and b elief i n one suprem e
god, such as Chris tiani ty an d Is lam.
O thers a re poly theis tic a n d b elie ve i n m ulti ple g ods ,
like Hinduism , the Gree ks an d th e Roma ns.
S ome religio us g roups do not beli eve i n the exist ence o f
a god at all, like Budd hism.
T hings lik e cults h ave s upe rnatu ral beliefs bu t d o no t
believe in a god. For exam ple, Heave ns Gate c ult b elieve d
humans are v ehicl es wh ich c arry the souls of inter stella r
travellers. T hi s s ound s k inda a wesome and w h acky u nt il
you find out they comm itted mas s sui cide in o rder to joi n
a spacecraft they belie ved w as t raveli ng behin d a c omet.
What are political beli ef sy stems ?
R ather t han a b e lief i n t h e s up ernatura l, p o litic al
belief sy stems f ocus o n s ocie ty a nd h ow i t s hould b e
organised. Even so thes e ty pes of belief syst ems c an b e
so strongl y h eld t h at t hey l e ad t o v iolen ce, w ars an d
their persec ution of soci al g roups (I think t he J ews ar e
the e lephan t i n t h e r o om h ere a ren't t hey? Y 'kno w
fascism, Nazi 's, H oloca ust a nd t he lik e)
S ome example s of polit ical beli ef sys tems ar e capi talis m,
Fascism, Neo Liber alism and Comm unism.
What are the two d efini tions of r elig ion?
S ubstantive: C once rned w ith t he content o f r eligio n.
Yinger's s ubsta ntive d e finiti on w as t hat relig ion is `a
system of b elief s a nd p r actic es, b y m ean s o f w hic h a

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Functional: C oncern ed w ith t he functions r eligion
performs for soci ety a nd the i ndividuals withi n it. Many
functionalist t heori es s urround t his an d w ill be
mentioned l ater o n .…read more

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Scientific theories are based empirical evi dence that has
been see n a nd observed, r ather than p reconc eived i deas
that cannot be seen.
Scientific enquiries are open and constantl y bein g tested
to see if they are still valid, and those th at aren 't are
rejected an d replaced with new theories.…read more

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Positive s tage ­ 1 9 th
c entury onwards: s cience i s t he
dominant belie f syste m and pe ople believe that things ca n
be tested a nd p roved. Beliefs are no lo nger a matter o f
According to Comte sci entif ic beliefs aren't a matter of
individual o pinio n a n d d oes n ot rely o n f aith bu t o n
evidence.…read more

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H e s aid n o b elief s ys tem i s
more supe rior than o thers.
Lyotard b el ieves t h at s cien ce i s b asi cally a
metanarra tive o f p rog ress, m aking p eople be lieve t hat
humans c an c o ntrol a nd p erfe ct t he w or ld h oweve r t hey
like.…read more

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What does Durkh eim sa y abo ut r eligio n?
R eligion p rovid es a colle ctive cons cience . The coll ective
conscience i s t he s hared n orms , v al ues, b elief s a nd
knowledge t ha t m ake s oci al l ife and coop eratio n be tween
individual s p oss ible.…read more

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He also said that another main function of religion was
to p rovide a r ange o f answers t o q uestions a bout
suffering, evil, the purpose o f e xistence etc. He said
religion helps society r un s moothly a nd prevents
conflict.…read more

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Movements and spi ritual shopping, people are taking bits
from every religion to cater to their own needs, so each
individual in s ociety' s belief s ystem may be completely
different, but they u nite in a community regardless.…read more

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They i gnore h ow fu nctional i t c an be, how it c an un ite
society a nd pr ovide s moral v alues.
In t odays s ociet y t he c lass system s till e xist s e ven
though re ligio n isn 't such a big part in todays societ y.
The lib eratio n t heory su ggest religion can act ually work
for the w orkin g cla ss rather than against it.…read more

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Gramsci s aid t h at m embe rs o f s o ciety p osses s a d ual
consciousness. Thi s bas ically m eans that they are partly
influences b y t he r u ling c lass t hr ough m edia, t he
education s ystem a nd r eligio n.…read more


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