Sociology A2 Beliefs in Society - Topic 2: Religion and social change

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Topic 2: Religion and Social change
Religion as a conservative force
Religion is traditional, upholding traditional beliefs about society
Functions to conserve things as they are
Religion's conservative beliefs
Many religions oppose changes that would allow more freedom
Catholic Church: Opposes divorce, abortion and gay marriage. Upholds family values, favouring
the nuclear family
Religion's conservative functions
Functionalists: Religion and consensus: Religion maintains social stability
Marxism: Religion and capitalism: Religion prevents social change by justifying exploitation
Feminists: Religion and Patriarchy: Religion is an ideology that legitimises patriarchy
Religion as a force for change
Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism
Calvinist beliefs were the beginning of modern capitalism
Calvinist beliefs
Pre-destination: God had decided who the elect would be and nothing could change that fate
Divine Transcendence: No-one could claim to know the will of God, caused Calvinists to feel an
inner loneliness which combined with pre-destination caused a salvation panic
This worldly Asceticism: Abstaining from luxury, denial whilst still being part of society
Calling: Combined with the concept of Asceticism. Calvinists worked hard (wealth was a sign of
being the elect) but any wealth made was put back into the businesses
Hinduism and Confucianism
Capitalism didn't take off in India and China because they lacked a belief like Calvinism
Other worldly: Followers focus was on the spiritual world, removed from mainstream society
This worldly: Part of mainstream society

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Topic 2: Religion and Social change
Not ascetic
Marxism: Overestimates the role of ideas and underestimates economic factors
Tawney: Technological changes caused capitalism
Capitalism didn't occur in every country where there was Calvinism
Religion and social protest
The American Civil Rights Movement
Churches provided sanctuary and support
Rituals and prayer united members
Ideological resource: Provided beliefs and practices that protestors could use as support
Taking the moral high ground: Pointed out the hypocrisy of the white clergy preaching `Love thy
Channelling dissent:…read more

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Topic 2: Religion and Social change
Marx: `The soul of the soulless' and `The heart of the heartless world'
Engels: Religion inhibits change by disguising inequality but it can also challenge the status quo
The principle of hope
Religion may inspire protest and revolution
Religion is an expression of the principle of hope which shows images of Utopia
Utopian images shows what needs changing
Liberation theology
Emerged in the Latin American Catholic church
Commitment to the poor and opposition to dictators
Due to increased…read more


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