Beliefs in Society FULL REVISION GUIDE

This is pretty much everything you need to know for the SCLY3 exam, it's all my revision notes - GOOD LUCK :)

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RELIGION ­ Defining it, and characteristics.
Functional and inclusivist- Durkheim: Religion is a "unified set of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things,
things which are set apart and forbidden". Contrasted with the profane: the everyday, mundane world.
- Broad definition which covers a wide range of beliefs
-Does not necessarily include beliefs in a supra-human, supernatural being
- Focuses on the function of beliefs in society, and the way in which things that people regard as sacred can bind
societies together, through shared values.
- Looks at the ways in which unconventional beliefs can be seen as sacred, i.e football.
Substantiative and exclusivist-Bruce: religion is "beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of
supernatural entities with powers of moral purpose"
- Berger: Religion is a "sacred canopy" or shield providing supernatural protection against random and apparently
meaningless events.
- Focuses on what religion actually is, involving supernatural, supra-human beliefs of some kind
-Fits with what most people would regard as religion, i.e Islam, Christianity etc, Though includes unconventional
beliefs such as Wicca and paganism also.
- A definition adopted by most sociologists.
Features of religion ­ Beliefs ­ in the supernatural, incomprehensible powers, or in symbols which are regarded as
- Theology ­ a set of teaching and beliefs based on holy scripture
- Practice ­ Rituals and ceremonies which are either public or privately i.e praying or fasting
- Institutions ­ provide an organisation of the worshippers/believers, usually buildings like churches.
- Consequences ­ A set of moral or ethical values that are meant to guide or influence the everyday behaviour of

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PLURALIST -Sees the exercise of power in society as reflecting a broad
range of social interest.
-No-one has a single monopoly of power, a wide range of interest
groups and individuals that live alongside each other compete for it.
-There is no single dominant ideology that reflects the interests of a
group, which is something to be approved of and welcomed.…read more

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Science and religion are often seen as competing ways of explaining the world
-Science aspires to objectivity and value-freedom based on research methods producing explanations based on
empirical evidence.…read more

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Funding, and location may influence what and how research is carried out
- Science has not displaced religion as of yet, many millions identify themselves with the major religions of the world,
and show loyalty in extremes such as People's Temple, where 913 committed suicide, and terrorist attacks in the
name of their God. ALSO ­ Many still hold some sort of faith, i.e superstition, ghosts, good luck charms.…read more

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Force for change- Concerned with how religious beliefs and organisations can change society and move it forward.
-There is a danger of overstating the importance of religion in either context, as there are often a number of other
social, political and economic factors which influence the nature and extent of religion's role in society.
McGuire and Robinson - There are four major interrelated factors which influence whether religion acts as a
conservative force or force for social change:
1.…read more

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Religion is part of the way of life of society, and it helps to maintain cultural traditions and establish the basic rules of
social life.
Durkheim- social order and stability can only exist if people are integrated into society by a value consensus. Religion
is an important element in achieving this, as it provides a set of beliefs and practices which unite people together.…read more

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- According to Marx, religion is "the sign of the oppressed creature, the
heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions"
-Religion is part of the dominant ideology
-Althusser: religion is an ideological state apparatus, which spreads
Gramsci's view of hegemony
-Religion has two main functions:
1.Religion as the "opium of the people"- Religion acts like a
hallucinatory, pain-relieving drug, creating illusions among the oppressed
which helps to maintain the power of the working class.…read more

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Religion promises an eventual escape from suffering and oppression in this life with promises of an ecstatic future in
life after death, making a virtue of poverty and suffering. ­ If people believe that what happens to them is God's will,
and a test of faith to be rewarded in the afterlife, they are more likely to accept, or even welcome, their fate, not
trying to change or improve their circumstances.
- Religion sometimes provides hope of supernatural intervention to solve problems on earth. I.E.…read more

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By providing things that help make sense of the world such as Universes of meaning and theodicies, religion is
contributing to the maintenance of social stability.…read more

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-To understand human behaviour it is necessary to examine the
meanings people give to events and ideas, which can have important
consequences for the way they think and act ­ religion is an important
component of this.
-The evolution of new religious idea can stimulate social and economic
change as people act in terms of their beliefs
- religion could be an important force in social change, including
economic change.…read more



thanks so much!! so good

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