Briefly examine post-modernist views on the nature and role of religion

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, briefly examine post-modernist views
on the nature and role of religion. (18 marks)
The postmodernist perspective is one which thinks that all the ideas about society need
reviewing and cannot be explained by theories.
Postmodernists such as Lyotard said that religion is becoming very personal to the individual
due to all the complexities in our society. We cannot generalise it as one thing as there are
too many explanations for it.
Postmodernists generally agree that society is changing and with it religion. Our beliefs are
not spiritual and mystical anymore so we need to adapt to this. This is shown in the same
way as the move from modernity to postmodernity.
The postmodernists also think that religion is becoming increasingly influenced by science.
This is what has lead to the development of new religious movements and new age
movements. This increase in science is also affecting the individual because they must
ensure that they can balance both their view of religion and their view of science to fit in
with their understanding of society.
Postmodernists think that the classical perspectives and their views on religion are out of
date. Many were from a long time ago eg Marxism in the 1800s and society has changed a
great deal since then.
They also argue that the other perspectives are of little relevance, however Marx would put
up the argument that as we are still a capitalist society religion and politics oppresses the
working class into a false class consciousness where they do not realise that their lives are
unfair, therefore showing that the classical perspectives can still be relevant.
Foucault, another postmodernist, argued that religion is one of the metanarratives that are
breaking down, leading to the destruction of what sociologists Durkheim, Marx and
Firestone see as society.
They also argue against what the functionalist's says as they think that religion has lost all of
its functions and is no use in that manner, therefore dysfunctional.
The postmodernists also say that as our society is so diverse religion cannot be a
conservative force or a force for social change. We need to accept that there are many
religions from which people pick and choose what they want in order to create their
Postmodernism is a sceptical explanation, it discriminates all the other theories and whilst
saying we don't need a theory it is itself seeming to become one. They do not recognise
ideas such as the functions religion gives us, how it is ideological and how it uses different
institutions to hold control over us. Therefore postmodernism doesn't see religion's role as
very important ­ we can use it as part of our identity if we want too, but it's not necessary.
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The candidate gives an account that starts off with a reference to Lyotard and
develops to include a range of points about change, science, the out-of-dateness of
Marxism, Foucault, picking and choosing religion. It is a good range of points
showing clear knowledge and understanding. This is definitely worth the 4-6 band
AO1 marks scored: 5/6
The interpretation of the question is good and the application of materials is sound.…read more


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