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Social Constructionist: meaning of religion to individuals and how members of society define religion.
Impossible to generalise the nature of religion.
Substantive: defines religion as a belief in God, or Supernatural.
They are exclusive.
Weber "belief in a superior or supernatural power that is above nature and cannot be explained scientifically".
Functional: the functions it performs for individuals and society.
They are inclusive, but many things perform functions such as social integration, like football.…read more

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Civil Religion: Bellah (1970) notes that religion unifies society, even a multi-faith society. Civil religion is a belief
system that attaches sacred qualities to society. Bellah argues that civil religion integrates society in a way that
individuals religions cannot. In American civil religion is a faith in the American way of life, which involves a loyalty to
the nation-state and a belief in God.…read more

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Abercrombie and Turner: point out that in pre-capitalist society, Christianity had little impact on the subject class,
despite it being a major element in ruling class ideology.
Feminists would argue that the main source of oppression in religion is for women.
Religious organisations: are mainly male dominated males have a high position of authority in the hierarchical
Places of worship: some places of worship segregate the sexes, in favour of men, marginalising women.…read more

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Evaluation: Woodhead criticises for ignoring the `religious feminism'.
Criticised for ignoring the changes in the position of women in religion today, for example women can become priests
and bishops.
Marxist would criticise feminists for focusing too much on the oppression of women rather than the poor.
Functionalist would argue that religion does not favour men over women and instead it creates solidarity, uniting all
members (male and females).…read more

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The protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism: Weber demonstrates that religion can contribute to social change,
using the example of the Calvinists protestant ethic that drove capitalism. Calvinists are a group of Catholics who
follow what is known as the protestant ethic working hard but shunning all luxuries.
Because Calvinists worked hard they accumulated wealth but they did not spend it on good instead they reinvested it
into their business, which grew producing more profit to reinvest.…read more

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The American Civil Rights Movement: Bruce describes the struggle of the black civil rights movement of the 1950s as
an example of religiously motivated social change. The civil rights movement began in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused
to sit in the black segregated place on a bus. This led to further protest and the black clergy led by Martin Luther
providing a source of unity in the face of oppression.
Bruce describes the black clergy as the backbone of the movement.…read more

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Secularisation trends: Church attendance has fallen from 40% in the mid 19thcentury to 10-15% by the 1960s and
6.3% in 2005.
An increase in the average age of churchgoers.
Fewer marriages, in 2006 the proportion of wedding was only a third, compared to 3/5 in 1971.
Fewer baptisms fell from 55% in 1991 to 41% in 2005
A decline in the numbers holding traditional Christian beliefs, Gill et al found that only 23% of people said they held
no religious beliefs in 1950.…read more

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Structural differentiation: Parson defines structural differentiation as the process of specialisations that occurs with
the development of industrial society. Separate specialised institution to carry out the functions that were previously
performed by one single institution.
Parsons believed that structural differentiation has led to a `disengagement of religion'. Religion dominated
pre-industrial society, but with industrialisation, it has become a smaller, more specialised institution. Its functions
have been transferred to other institutions, such as the state, and it becomes disconnected from society.…read more

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Berger argues that this creates a crisis of credibility for all religions because alternatives erode the certainties that
traditional religions claim. Religious views become relative, rather than absolute truth. This creates the possibility of
opting out of religion all together.
However, Beckford argues that it is not inevitable that people will abandon religion as a result of opposing view. He
notes that opposing view can sometimes strengthen religious commitment. This may be through cultural defence,
where religious groups defend their religious views from external threats.…read more


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