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  • Created on: 15-01-13 17:12
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Item A
Sociologists disagree about the roles played by religion in society. Some argue
that religion can help individuals to explain and make sense of the world around
them. It can provide meaning and purpose to life, help to integrate people in
society, and also enable them to cope with times of stress or disaster. Some
postmodernists, such as Bauman (1992), argue that many traditional religious
organisations are now less important. Individuals are now free to shop around
among a range of cults, sects and other religious and spiritual movements to
find something that suits their lifestyle. However, sociologists from Marxist,
functionalist and feminist perspectives argue that religion also has wider
functions for society. For example, functionalists argue that religion plays a
crucial part in the maintenance of the collective conscience. Other sociologists
put forward the idea that religion acts as a conservative force in society,
helping to maintain order and prevent social change.
01) Identify and briefly explain three characteristics of religious
fundamentalism. (9 marks)
Fundamentalists are traditionalists that seek to return to the basics of their
faith. They are resistant to religious and social change as these are seen as a
threat. They believe that theirs is the only true vision of the world. They
believe unquestioningly in the literal truth of scripture and believe it provides
answers to life's important questions.
02) Using material from Item A and elsewhere assess the view that
religion is a force for social change. (18 marks)
Sociologists have shown religion to be a force for change. The most famous
example of this would be Max Weber's study of the protestant ethic and the
spirit of capitalism. In this Weber argues that the religious beliefs of Calvinism
brought about major social change, especially in Northern Europe. Weber
argues that modern capitalism is unique because it is based on the systematic,

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He calls it the spirit of capitalism. According to Weber, this spirit
had an elective affinity or unconscious similarity to the Calvinists beliefs and
attitudes, they had several distinct beliefs. Calvinists believed in Predestination
which is the belief that God has predetermined which souls to save, the elect,
and which souls he will not save even before birth and individuals could do
nothing about it.…read more


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