Theories of religion

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FUNCTIONALIST THEORIES OF RELIGION.
Functionalists are concerned with the contribution religion makes to meeting society's needs ­ social
solidarity, value consensus, harmony and integration.
Durkheim ­ 5 functions of religion Totemism.
Parsons ­ value consensus integration.
Malinowski ­ deals with emotional stress order.
Social integration ­when the system binds its members together.
Value consensus ­shared NBVs within a group.
Differentiation ­ religion has become specialised.
Social solidarity ­ shared feelings of identification within a group.
Social order ­ actions which people display in their social lives.
Civil religion ­ secular symbols promoting solidarity, e.g. flags.
Anomie ­ sense of normlessness in society.
View on secularisation.
Functionalists believe that as religion has lost functions to other institutions, it has become specialised.
MARXIST THEORIES OF RELIGION.
Religion is an illusion which eases pain produced by exploitation and oppression. It is a series of myths that
justify the control of the proletariat.
Marx ­ ISA so reflects ruling class, distinguishing true nature of oppression: hierarchy is Godgiven
religion offers escape to heaven as a reward.
ISA transmits ruling class ideology to maintain capitalism.
Social inequalities ­ when individuals do not have equal social status.
Opium of the people ­ Marx said religion acts life a drug, dulling the pain of oppression.
False class consciousness ­ when the working class are not aware of their exploitation.
View on secularisation.
Marx thought religion would come to an end with the advent of communism.
FEMINIST THEORIES OF RELIGION.
Similarly to Marxists religion can be an instrument of domination: patriarchy. Some feminists do argue
however that it can be used to liberate women.
De Beauvoir ­ second sex.
El Saadawi ­ blames patriarchal society.
Holm ­ in theory equal, in practice not equal.
Watson ­ positive aspects of the hijab.
Patriarchy ­ male headed society or group.
Oppression ­ exercising authority or power in an unjust manner.
Differential socialisation ­ females taught to be submissive, passive, obedient and nurturing.
Differential roles females have lower rates of participation in paid work and higher rates of participation in
childrearing and church related activities.
View on secularisation.
Feminists disagree with secularisation because they would argue that they are still being oppressed and
society is still patriarchal.

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NEOMARXIST THEORIES OF RELIGION.
Disagreeing with Marxists over the role of religion in society, neoMarxists say that religion is a force for
social change: namely Maduro's liberation theology.
Maduro ­ members take discontent to church.
Gramsci ­ church produces WC intellectuals.
Liberation theology ­belief that people have a duty to free themselves from social oppression rather than
waiting for wrongs to be righted in another life.
View on secularisation.…read more

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Theodicy of disprivilege­ religious explanations that legitimise social inequalities.
Disenchantment ­ magic and mystery replaced by rational thinking.
Rationalisation ­ occurs as disenchantment does.
View on secularisation.
Weber thought (back in the 1920s) the modern world would become rationalised leaving little room for
faith.…read more

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