Marxism notes for religion

Main ideas of the Marxist perspective, includes Madiuro and Engles as well as Marx's, their key terms and evaluation also similarties and differences for A03, hope this is useful!

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  • Created on: 28-11-09 22:50
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Name of sociologist: Karl Marx
Main Ideas: religion is an illusion which eases the pain produced by
exploitation and oppression. Religion is a serious of myths that justifies and
legitimates the subordination of the subject class and the domination and
privileges of the ruling class. Religion helps maintain the capitalist society as
it is an instrument of domination and oppression which keep the proletariats in
their place.
Key terms:
Alienation: states the nature of work in capitalist soc, cuts the workers off
from themselves, from others in their workplace and what they produce.
`Opium of the Masses': Marx's quote to describe the addiction of religion as a
drug, which is addicted to those being oppressed and stopping them from
claiming to a decent life.
(-) Marx saw religion as a form of ideology which helped to maintain ruling
class power, Critics have argued that although evidence supports this view
from certain times and places they reject that this is the primary role of
(-) Religion compensates for the oppressed, gives them false hope (caste
system is evidence of this) However parsons contradicts this crit- religion
gives meaning and makes sense of birth and death-events that effect people in
all societies
(-) Marxists can be critised by Functionalists approach as they believe that
religion strengthens social solidarity, regular acts of worship & rituals play a
crucial role in maintaining social survival.
(+) Neo Marxists ­ religion helps open eyes of the oppressed to the reality of
their situation- can encourage change
Frederick Engles
Main Ideas: saw glimmers of a demand of change in some religious movements
which look forward to change in the here and now rather than in the afterlife,
For example, aspects of the communism in the early Christianity. However
because of the religious emphasis on the supernatural, Engles felt that these

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Religion can liberate, however its ability to fully revolutionise is questionable,
only certain aspects e.g. politics remain more powerful e.g. French and Bourg
revolution still withheld part of their prier to limit the extent and liberation
Madiuro & Engles agree on society, Accepting fate for reward in the afterlife
(Supernatural force ­ something to look forward to).…read more


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