Beliefs in Society Revision Notes- taken from AQA textbook

These are my notes for unit 3 on the AQA syllabus. Unfortunately my lecturer is awful to the extent where I have had to teach myself. Using these notes I am getting As in all my assignments.

I got these notes from the AQA textbook so that is the basic summary

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Preview of Beliefs in Society Revision Notes- taken from AQA textbook

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Beliefs in Society
Revision notes from AQA textbook

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Science, Religion and Spirituality
Religion belief system explaining origins of world and humans
o Broad definition set of ideas which bind people together
o Narrow definition belief in a god, an all powerful creator and the
rituals and practices associated with the worship of that god
Weber every society has had some form of religious beliefs
Malinowski Trobriand Islanders religion based on animism and utilitarian
Religion used to plug gaps in empirical knowledge of world only resort to
religious beliefs when we encounter something…read more

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Atheism and Science
Some may find it difficult to believe in supernatural phenomena in religion and
can be skeptical agnosticism doubtful about the existence of God in the
absence of empirical evidence
Staunch atheists rationalist stance arguments for existence of God illogical
no factual basis for claims made and scientific evidence to refute them
Disagree with the idea that religion should be allowed to dominate issues of
morality not needed to create shared norms and values as there are universal
human values that underpin standards…read more

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Sociological Perspectives on Religion
Structural Theories
Durkheim religion binds people together like social cement, provides set of
moral values form collective conscience creating social stability, religion key
agent of secondary socialisation, studied totemism in Australian Aboriginal
tribes, all societies divided into sacred and profane, when tribe gathered to
worship the spirit they also worshipped clan, collective worship reinforces
social solidarity
Parsons helps people to deal with life crises, would otherwise produce
anomie threatening social order, religion gives us comfort by answering
difficult questions, motivational…read more

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Gramsci economic forces alone cannot maintain dominance of ruling class
ruling class has to persuade masses that existing system is good and fair for
everyone hegemony did not believe this was inevitable, if church joined
forces with workingclass intellectuals could lead masses to challenge status
quo and free themselves from oppression
Evaluation of Marxist ideas
Marxist view does not take secularisation into account
Church does not always support the ruling class, e.g.…read more

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Social Action Theories
Religion actively used by individuals to make sense of daytoday life
Religion justifies the status quo
Micro view individuals use religion to explain why some people have wealth,
status and power and others do not theodicy of privilege and nonprivilege
(religious explanation of social inequality), e.g.…read more

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Religious Organisations and
Troeltsch defined features of church
Large formal organisation
Hierarchy of paid officials
Automatic recruitment
Tries to appeal to all members of society
May have close relationship with the state
Accepts wider society
Claims monopoly on religious truth
Relationship between church and state weak in comparison to middle ages
but still evident Queen is head of state and church
Church of England tolerates coexistence of a wide range of other faiths that
have contrasting versions of religious truth, participates in ecumenical…read more

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Troeltsch defined sects
Small organisation, no professional hierarchy
Headed by charismatic leader
Exclusive membership
No automatic recruitment
Requires total commitment of members
Opposed to state and wider society
Claim monopoly on religious truth
Born of conflict within church resulting in small group breaking away normally
conflict from concern over church's increasing wealth
Draw membership from lower classes
Members required to demonstrate their complete commitment to the set
often means withdrawal from society
Charismatic leader enjoys great control over members of sect, e.g.…read more

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New Religious Movements
Since 1960s increase in number and range of small religious groups
throughout Europe and USA
Wallis categorised new religious movements (NRMS)
o Worldrejecting NRMs highly critical of outside world, withdraw
o Worldaccommodating NRMs usually offshoots of existing
o Worldaffirming NRMs no developed theology or collective
worship, conservative, offer followers opportunity to increase their
success in terms of dominant values of society, attempt to
discover their spiritual power
New Age movements largely but not exclusively audience and client cults
tend to have…read more

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Religious Belief, Social Change and
Religion and social stability
View that religion is a conservative force in society comes from structural
theories consensus and conflict views
Durkheim religion teaches people the moral norms and values they need to
stick to the collective conscience maintains social order, saw conservative
nature of religion as positive encourages social harmony safe from rapid
social change would otherwise bring about anomie leading to breakdown in
social order BUT not entirely against social change slow change is
necessary to…read more


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