Beliefs in society

anything in blue is AO3, or an attempted ao3 lmao.

  • Created by: amxns
  • Created on: 20-05-17 22:05

what is religion

three definitions of religion

SUBSTANTIVE DEFINITION: to be a religion, belief must include a belief in God or the supernatural.- this disregards Buddhism as they do not believe in a God.    

FUNCTIONAL DEFINITION: the social/ psychological functions it performs for the individual or society.

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONALIST: how individuals themselves define religion- there cannot be a single universal definition of religion since we all define it in different ways 


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functionalist theories of religion

DURKHEIM: PREVENTING ANOMIE: religion regulates behaviour and integrates individuals together in society, therefore it prevents anomie. Did study on Austrailian Aboriginals and found all the tribe members from different social groups( CAGE) all came together when worshipping the totem. Showing that religion integrates people together. A03 SEEN TODAY EG MUSLIMS GOING HAJJ  He also said that religious rituals such as worshiping the totem reinforced the COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCE= the shared norms, values and beliefs that make cooperation possible- without this, society would disintegrate. 

MALINOSKI: PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS: religion performs psychological functions for individuals and religions aim is to cope with emotional stress and provide guidance. In his study of Tribland Islanders, he found they used religion when the waves were harsh preventing them from catching their main source of food: fish= they used religion to cope with stress. A03: seen today when we are experiencing a tough time eg exams, sickness, we turn to religion to ease our stress and for things to get better= PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTION. 

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functionalist p2

BELLAH CIVIL RELIGION: secular symbols/rituals create social cohesion just as religion does; it unifies society and prevents anomie. EG CR present in America, worshipping and having loyalty to their nation as if it is a God- flags, singing national anthem religiously creates a collective feeling that generates stability and social cohesion 

PARSONS: RELIGION GIVES ANSWERS AND MEANINGS: analysed sacred texts/ quotes and found religion gives answers and meanings and certain aspects of life. EG one might ask "why am I poor" Bible quote such as 'A rich man at his castle a poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly and ordered their estate'. means God made you poor, just accept it, cannot question fate. 

A03: Functionalists only emphasises the positive and ignores the dysfunctional aspects of religion eg religious conflicts isis. 

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Marxist theories of religion

MARX: religion is an ideology that distorts wc perception of reality to serve the interests of the rc. Religion is a weapon used to legitimate oppression of workers and inhibit social change by making their position in society seem god given and fixed thus wc are in a FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS meaning they are not aware of how unfair society is. Religion justifies social inequality by making it seem god given and that if they suffer now they will be rewarded in the after, so they don't revolt now and challenge capitalism. Also said religion is the product of alienation and is much more extreme under capitalism, as they have no control over what they produce. Thus workers turn to religion as a form of support from oppression = religion is the OPIATE OF THE PEOPLE as it dulls the pain of oppression like opium- a drug which kills pain, but it doesn't solve/ take away the pain (oppression).    

LENIN SPIRITUAL GIN: religion is doled out/ distributed to the poor to keep them passive and in their place and to avoid the poor from revolution. So it creates a 'mystical fog' that conceals true reality. 

Religion legitimates power/privilege of rc by making their position to appear divinely ordained EG HINDU CASTE SYSTEM- JUSTIFIES SOCIAL INEQUALITY BY ASSURING THOSE AT THE BOTTOM WILL BE REWARDED IN THE AFTERLIFE.

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feminism and religion


  • WRIGHT: liberal fems would say religion isn't patriarchal because a lot of gender equality has been achieved. eg Judaism has allowed women to become rabbis since 1992 and CoE has permitted women ordination into priesthood, now a fifth of all its priests are female.
  • WOODHEAD; There are ‘religious forms of feminism’ – ways in which women use religion to gain greater freedom and respect. eg western fems see hijab is a symbol of oppression whereas Muslim women see it as a symbol of liberation which enables them to enter the public sphere without losing their culture and identity. 

  • WATSON: claims Muslim veil is not used as a means of social control as some feel it helps them cope with male oppression. Also wearing the veil is a reaction against an increasingly pervasive western culture 

don't use Watson and Woodhead for separate points they're very similar. 

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religion is patriarchal

religion is still patriarchal because

  • ARMSTRONG: women are marginalised and neglected in religion. eg early religions place women at the centre- earth mother goddesses. Until about 4,000 years ago the rise of monotheistic religions saw the establishment of a single all-powerful male God and prophets= male nature of religion is socially constructed. 
  • SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR: religion is oppressive and exploitative that is used by the oppressors (men) to control the oppressed (women). religion promotes the idea that if women suffer in this life, they'll receive equality in heaven- justifies and maintains the status quo.

  • EL SAADAWI: her experience of fgm. religion is not patriarchal itself, it is the men who interpret religion to suit their needs and the patriarchal system, so now religion contributes to women's oppression. eg Oppressive practices such as fgm have often been attributed to the influence of Islam, however, she argues that men have distorted religion to legitimate the oppression of women by controlling their sexuality
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evidence of patriarchy

religion legitimates female subordination 

PLACES OF WORSHIP: segregate the sexes and marginalises women. for example, men seated at the front, occupying sacred places, whereas women at the back. Womens participation may be limited too eg in Islam menstruating women are prohibited from entering masjid and reading Quran. HOLM= describes such acts towards women as the 'devaluation of women in religion'.  

SACRED TEXTS: focuses on male prophets and Gods but feature anti-women stereotypes eg Eve caused humanity's dismissal from the Garden of Eden.   

RELIGIOUS LAWS AND CUSTOMS: women are given fewer rights than men eg in Islam a man can have up to four spouses yet a woman can only have one. Religion legitimates and regulates women's reproductive role eg RCC bans abortion and contraception.Religion influences cultural norms leading to unfair treatment- fgm.  

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religion and social change

conservation= conservative,maintaining,preserving,inhibits, traditional (KEEPING THINGS THE SAME

change= changing things lol 

Religion is seen as a conservative force in two ways
BEING TRADITIONAL: encourages traditional values like morals and customs 

RELIGION FUNCTIONS TO CONSERVE THINGS THE WAY THEY ARE: stabilises society and maintains the status quo.

Most traditional religions are conservative. They hold conservative beliefs about sexuality, morality, family values and oppose changes that would allow personal freedom. eg Hinduism favours male domestic authority- hold family values that favour traditional domestic Division of labour. RoC forbids homosexuality and divorce.= religion keeps things how they are) 

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religion and change p2

Marxism, feminism and functionalists all hold the view that religion is a conservative force as it functions to maintain things the way they are and maintain the status quo. MARXISTS and FEMINISTS view this as a bad thing but FUNCTIONALISTS say this is a good thing.

Functionalists: religion functions to maintain social stability and prevent anomie by creating a value consensus ensuring individuals do not disintegrate from others.   

Marxists: religion maintains things the way they are and keeps the status quo by acting as an ideology and legitimating inequality and exploitation; this prevents a revolution= maintains social structure how it is. 

Feminists: religion keeps things the way they are by acting as in ideology that legitimates and maintains the subordination and oppression of women. 

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religion as a force for change

How religion was used to change society= bring social change . Religion is a dual character= a cons force which they try to maintain but in doing so they bring change eg iranian revolution 

THE AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: MLK, black clergy minister used religion to bring change= to allow black people to vote. He used the church to provide meeting places, sang hymns as a source of unity, used Bible quotes and the values of Christian equality to get change eg "love thy neighbour". CRM a success and an example of religion becoming involved in a secular struggle and helped to bring change. 

THE NEW CHRISTIAN RIGHT: an example of a failed movement to bring social change. NCR were conservative Christians that wanted to take America 'back to God' = wanted to go back to before the liberalisation of America. Bruce said they were unsuccessful because the democratic values of American society differed with those of ncr eg Americans ok with legalising homosexuality etc. the only way to achieve change is to ensure that the values the protesters should be consistent with wider society- CRM a success bc it did this but ncr didn't. 

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social change p2

IRANIAN REVOLUTION: Islamic fundamentalism encouraged social change. The shah introduced westernisation in Iran- clubs, bars, cinemas. However religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini led a revolution against the shah and this liberalisation, he overthrew the shah and reversed liberalisation and brought Iran back to how it was before- under sharia law. An example of religion acting as a dual character bc they wanted to go back to being conservative so it changed society bc it went from liberal to conservative. 

MADURO- LIBERATION THEOLOGY: priests in Latin America used religion to free people from oppression using liberation theology: educated people about their situation, taught them English, paving the way for religion to bring social change. It was soon put to an end- pope banned it. CAN USE LIBERATION THEOLOGY TO CRITICISE MARXISM  

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secularisation p1


  • WEBER:  yes there's secularisation bc there's Decline in church membership and attendance- USE IN INTRO 
  • fewer baptisms and church weddings, opt for 'naming ceremonies' instead, bogus baptisms: baptise child to get into faith schools- they are high achieving schools= religion an entry ticket rather than a sign of commitment


  • measured by Church attendance, bad bc attending church doesn't mean you're religious. 
  • measured with Christianity- CHRISTOCENTRIC- what about other religions that maintain high religiosity? 
  • statistics aren't reliable 
  • was there ever a "GOLDEN AGE" of religion? how can we measure religion if we don't know its peak? how can we measure if its gone up or down?
  • difficult to measure bc there is no one definition of religion some use functional definitions of religion eg religion "does this/ creates solidarity and there's substantive( a belief in..)
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pro secularisation

1) WEBER- RATIONALISATION: the process by which rational thinking eg science has come to replace religious ones. Protestant reformation started this off by replacing religious views with scientific ways of thinking. THIS LED TO DISENCHANTMENT: the world no longer is seen as an "enchanted garden", God didn't intervene in the world, events happened due to nature= not explained by supernatural beings; thus we turn to science to explain events instead of religion 

2) BRUCE- A TECHNOLOGICAL WORLDVIEW: religious explanations are taken less seriously/ considered because we look at scientific and technological responses for events eg if a plane crashes we see it as a fault of the plane/scientific and technological explanation rather than Gods punishment.

3) PARSONS- STRUCTURAL DIFFERENTIATION: in the development of industrial society structural differentiation has taken place. This means specialised institutions develop to carry out functions that were previously performed by one single institution= THIS HAS HAPPENED TO RELIGION. It dominated in pre-industrial society but in the industrial society, it as became a smaller and specialised institution. Structural dif of religion has led to DISENGAGEMENT: functions of religion transferred to other institutions so religion becomes DISENGAGED from the state  eg religion looses its influence on law making- 2014 MARRIAGE ACT= society secular

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pro secularisation p2

BRUCE SAYS as religion becomes disengaged from society by losing its functions; RELIGION BECOMES PRIVATISED. Religious beliefs are largely a matter of personal choice and religious institutions have lost much of their influence on wider society and in a result, traditional rituals and symbols have lost meaning. The fact that religion has lost its functions to wider society this shows that the level of secularisation is increasing in society today. However, it could be said that religion has merely specialised in the private realm so religion has instead changed rather than declined

4) WILSON- SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY: the transition from pre-industrial to industrial society meant a decline in community and thus religion. This is bc in pre-industrial society there were tight-knit communities which integrated individuals through shared values expressed in collective worship. As society transitioned, communities became smaller and religion lost its importance. Similar to this BRUCE sees industrialisation as undermining the consensus of religious beliefs that hold small rural communities together. Social and geographical mobility not only breaks up communities but brings people together from many different backgrounds which creates even more diversity. Thus the PLAUSIBILITY of religion is undermined by alternatives and diversity as the plausibility of religion depends on a strong practising community,

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pro secularisation p3

5) BERGER- RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY:  instead of one religion and interpretation, there are now many. In the middle ages, the Catholic Church held an absolute monopoly and had no competition so everyone lived under the same SACRED CANOPY- set of beliefs shared by all= gave greater plausibility of religion bc they had no challengers. But this all changed with the Protestant Reformation. Since then the number and variety of religious organisations have continued to grow and all with different versions of the truth. Berger has argued that this has created CRISIS OF CREDIBILITY for religion. Diversity undermines religious plausibility structure. He says when there are alternative versions of religion to choose from people are more likely to question all of them. This makes religious beliefs become relative rather than absolute- what is true/ false is a personal opinion Beckford states that although religious diversity will lead some to question or even abandon their religious beliefs, it is not inevitable; Opposing views can have the effect of strengthening a religious group’s commitment to its existing beliefs rather than undermining them.

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secularisation in America

WILSON: in 1962 only 45% of Americans attended church on Sundays. The attendance was not for religion reasons, but instead to express the AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE thus America is a secular society because religion has become superficial.

BRUCE- SECULARISATION FROM WITHIN: the purpose of religion has changed from seeking salvation to seeking personal improvement thus religion in America has become PSYCHOLOGISED and TURNED INTO A FORM OF THERAPY. Whereas the traditional purpose of religion eg glorifying God as DECLINED. 

BRUCE- RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY: In America, church goers are less dogmatic in their views. there is a trend of PRACTICAL RELATIVISM - an acceptance that other views are different to ones own 

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Anti secularisation p1

THEORIES OF LATE MODERNITY AND POSTMODERNITY: these argue that religion is not declining but merely changing as society develops.


  • BELIEVING WITHOUT BELONGING: religion isn't declining, just taking a different form- a more privatised form. People might be reluctant to belong to organisations and not attend, BUT they still hold religious beleifs= this is what Davie called believing without belonging.
  • VICARIOUS RELIGION: religion is practised by an active minority (churchgoers, priests) on behalf of the great majority= they experience religion second hand= vicarious religion. Common in Europe where church attendance is low but people use churches for rights of passage- baptisms, weddings thus churches/ religion seen as a SPIRITUAL HEALTH SERVICE= there for anyone to use whenever.

BRUCE CRITIC TO BWB: if people are not willing to invest their time into going to church and worship God themselves then it only highlights the declining levels of belief and exposes secularisation. If people no longer believe, they no longer wish to belong and their involvement in religion diminishes

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LEGER SPIRITUAL SHOPPING: Fewer people attending church bc of CULTURAL AMNESIA: there is a loss of religion taught from generation to generation, younger people do not inherit traditional values of religion; parents now let their children decide what to believe in. As a result, traditional religion becomes replaces with INDIVIDUAL CONSUMERISM as people pick and mix parts of religion that suit their lifestyle and needs people become  SPIRITUAL SHOPPERS.

LYON- POSTMODERNISM RELIGION: Postmodern society has features that are changing religion

  • GLOBALISATION, THE MEDIA AND RELIGION: globalisation has led to the movement of ideas/ beliefs across national boundaries. This is exacerbated by the media and info technology that gives us INSTANTANEOUS ACCESS to other others and beliefs. Thus religion becomes DISEMBEDDED as the media 'lifts' them out of physical places and moves them to a different place and time. eg TELEVANGELISM has disembedded religion from real church bc it allows you to watch/ stream sermons from tv or online. This allows the believer to express faith without physically attending. 
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criticise secularisation as being eurocentric since it only focuses on Europe. religion only declines when there is a lack of religion in the market. RMT based on two assumptions: 

  • People are naturally religious, it meets their needs and there is always a constant demand for religion.
  • It is human nature to seek rewards and avoid costs; they weigh up the costs and benefits of different options available.

Religion is attractive bc it offers compensators- when real life rewards are unattainable, religion offers supernatural rewards eg life after death. 

Religion offers a cycle of renewal: there is not a one-way process of decline, there is a cycle of religious decline, revival and renewal. A perpetuating cycle in which one religion declines but others are always growing. Religion is always changing instead of disappearing completely, new forms emerge and replace old ones. eg when established churches decline, they leave a gap in the market for sects and cults to attract new followers and grow.

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Stark and Bainbridge also say that religions act like businesses selling goods in a market. secularisation theorists see competition between religions as undermining but S&B say this competition is good for religion and it leads to improvements in the quality of what each religion has to offer.

America vs Europe: The demand for religion increases, when there are a variety of religions to choose from (religious diversity) because consumers can find a religion that meets their needs. Therefore, if there is a religious monopoly, it will lead to a decline because without competition, a church has no incentive to meet people’s needs. THIS IS WHY RELIGION HASNT DECLINED IN AMERICA because there is no religious monopoly over there and the church and the state are separate institutions. There has always been religious diversity, with a variety of denominations to choose from, encouraging a healthy religious market. whereas in Europe, it is dominated by a state church which had a religious monopoly eg the Church of England. thus the lack of competition and choice has led to a decline.

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Existential security theory- critic to rmt

Norris & Inglehart: the reason for variations in religious beliefs between societies is due to different degrees of existential security. They believe that the main function of religion is to provide security and so societies that feel secure have a low demand for religion but societies that feel insecure have a high demand for religion. 


  • they face famine and life-threatening risks 
  • as a result, they have high levels of insecurity and turn to religion for comfort


  • these individuals have a high standard of living and lack life-threatening risks 
  • as a result, they have a greater level of security so don't turn to religion as much 

Thus, the DEMAND FOR RELIGION ISNT CONSTANT as S&B claim, it varies between societies and what their environment is like. 

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Europe vs America

Western EUROPE is moving towards secularisation. This is because these societies are equal and secure eg social services, free healthcare, welfare system and EVERYONe IS ENTITLED TO THESE. Thus, Europe protects those who feel insecure and prevents them falling into poverty. 

But in America, there are high levels of religiosity because it is unequal. For instance, they do not have an adequate welfare state and individuals highly regard a 'dog eat dog' value. Therefore the chances of falling into poverty are high so Americans feel insecure and turn to religion.  

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typologies of religious organisations


  • large organisation 
  • accepts societies norms and values 
  • CLAIMS MONOPOLY: only their teachings are true, intolerant of others 
  • members consist of all classes but mostly mc
  • place few demands on members  


  • a watered down version of a sect and church
  • don't expect high commitment 
  • impose few demands on members
  • tolerant of other organisations 
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RO p2


  • small exclusive groups
  • against the church and hostile to society 
  • high levels of commitment sanctions if you don't
  • appeal to poor and oppressed
  • hold a religious monopoly of truth


  • tolerant of society 
  • without an exclusive belief system 
  • no formal membership- join and leave whenever you want and their more like customers than members
  • no hierarchy/ power= the power resides within YO SELF, they aim to discover that!
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WALLIS: says there are similarities and differences between the 4 organisations, identified through

  • HOW THEY SEE THEMSELVES: Churches and Sects both claim a religious monopoly, but Denominations and Cults dont, they accept there are other interpretations and are okay with it
  • HOW THEY ARE SEEN BY WIDER SOCIETY: church and denominations are seen as respectful and legitimate by wider society but sects and cults are seen as deviant.

worth noting: sects are SHORT LIVED, they die out real quick becuase either the members die or the charismatic leader dies= has no one to lead/ governn them= sect is over. 

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wallis and nrm

WALLIS: coined up the term new religious movements because the other classifications were too broad. He categorises them into 3 groups based on their relationship with the outside world.

  • WORLD REJECTING NRMS= this is a sect. They are very critical of the outside world and seek radical change. Members live communally with restricted contact from the outside world. They have conservative moral codes and a clear notion of God.  eg ISIS, JIM JONES
  • WORLD ACCOMMODATING NRMS= this is a neo denomination. Breakaways from church and denominations. neither accept or reject the world; they're just chillin. They focus on religious rather than other worldly matters; seeking to restore the spiritual purity of religion.
  • WORLD AFFIRMING NRMS= this is a cult. differ from other religious groups bc it lacks the features of conventional religion such as collective worship. it's non-exclusive, anyone can join and leave when they want- no sanctions. accept the world as it is, just seeks to improve it for the individual by enabling them to unlock their own powers and achieve success= this worldly benefits. ANYTHING TO DO WITH SPIRITALITY= WORLD AFFIRMING. 
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Stark and Brainbridge sects and cults

Argue sects and cults are in conflict with society 

They see sects as promising other-worldly benefits to those suffering economic or ethical deprivation. By contrast, cults tend to offer this-worldly benefits, to those who are suffering normlessness/ psychic deprivation, health problems.

divides cults into how organised they are

  • audience cults: least organised, doesn't involve membership or commitment, little interaction between members and participation may be through the media eg astrology.
  • client cults: Based on the relationship between a consultant and a client, provide services to their followers, place emphasis on ‘therapies’ promising personal fulfilment and self-discovery.
  • cultic movements: the most organised and demand commitment, aims to meet all of its member's needs and they are rarely allowed to belong to other religious groups at the same time.  
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new age movements

life hack: new religious movements (only world affirming!!), new age movements and cults ARE ALL THE SAME THING, SAME CHARACTERISTICS JUST 3 DIFFERENT NAMES. why? idk smh.

‘New Age’ refers to a large number of religions and therapies that have become increasingly important since the 1970s. Many New Age movements are based on self-discovery and spirituality. They can often be classed as ‘world-affirming’ as they focus on the achievement of individual potential. NAM include horoscopes, meditating, tarot card reading = SPIRITUAL, people join bc they want help now, in this current life. 

POSTMODERNIST HEELAS: NAM have two characteristics

  • SELF SPIRITUALITY: new agers look for spirituality within themselves and turn away from traditional religion 
  • DETRADITIONALISATION: New Age rejects the spiritual authority of traditional sources EG priests or sacred texts and instead values personal experience, believing that we can discover the truth for ourselves within. 
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why people join religious movements= nam, nrm p1

  • WEBER- MARGINALITY: sects appeal to the poor and opressed= marginalised groups in society. This is bc they offer a solution to their problems by offering a THEODICY OF DISPRIVILEGE: religious justification and explanation for their suffering eg promising rewards in the afterlife. In the past sects recruited from marginalised poor eg  Nation of Islam, successfully recruited disadvantaged blacks from the USA. BUT SINCE THEN, sect like world rejecting nrm have been recruiting from affluent mc whites. However, WALLIS says this isn't contradicting Weber's point bc these people were marginalised, even though they were mc they were druggies, dropouts.
  • RELATIVE DEPRIVATION: The subjective sense of being deprived- even tho someone is privileged in society, they may feel deprived in some way. WALLIS says these people turn to sects for a SENSE OF COMMUNITY and to FILL A SPIRITUAL VOID eg the mc might are economically well off but feel spiritually deprived so turn to sects.

    GLOCK & STARK: it is the relatively deprived that break away from churches and from sects. they may place emphasis on the Christian message ‘it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle’ So they turn to sects as they offer COMPENSATORS since they are deprived of rewards in this life. whereas the mc don't need compensators and stick to world affirming churches. 

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why people join religious movements= nam, nrm

WILSON: SOCIAL CHANGE: periods of rapid social change disrupts and undermines established norms and values so as a result people feel a sense of anomie. So these people turn to sects that offer clear norms and values eg industrial revolution saw the creation of Methodism, offered a sense of community with clear norms and values. 

BRUCE: similarly says the growth of sects and cults are a response to social changes involved in secularisation and moderniation. In a secular soceity, people are less attracted to traditional churches becuase they demand a lot of commitment, thus people join sects and cults as they are less demanding and require fewer sacrifices. 

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the growth of NRMS

WORLD REJECTING NRMS: WALLIS says social change in the 1960s such as increased time in education gave young people freedom from adult responsibilities and led a subculture to develop. world rejecting nrms were attractive to youths bc they offered a MORE IDEALISTIC WAY OF LIFE- this led to a growth in world rejecting nrms. 

WORLD AFFIRMING NRMS: BRUCE argues that the growth of world affirming is a response to modernity, especially to the rationalisation of work. Work no longer provides meaning or a source of identity as some lack opportunities to succeed. Instead, world-affirming NRM’s provide a sense of identity and techniques that promise success in this world.

HEELAS: thus she calls world affirming CULTS FOR CAPITALISM. 

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growth of nam/ cults

NEW AGE MOVEMENTS= CULTS: a belief in UFOS, astrology, yoga, meditation

POSTMODERNITY AND NEW AGE- DRANE: Nam more popular because of its shift towards post modern society and a loss of faith in metanarratives. eg science promised to progress the world but it brought war and global warming instead thus people lose faith in science and become disillusioned with the churches failure to meet their spiritual needs. This loss of faith in organisations who claim to have the truth lead to people to TURN TO THE NEW AGE IDEA THAT WE CAN FIND THE TRUTH WITHIN OURSELVES ONLY.

MODERNITY AND NEW AGE- BRUCE: nam more popular because of its link to modernity, as it places an emphasis on INDIVIDUALISM which is a core value in modern society. On the other hand, traditional religions are more demanding and strict and fail to meet the needs of individuals in modern society. New Age beliefs are often softer versions of the traditional demanding religions eg Buddhism. This explains why New Age activities are often audience or client cults as they place few demands on their followers. 

Bruce sees ‘spiritual shopping’ as typical of religion in late modern society as it reflects the consumerist ethos of capitalist society.  

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BECKFORD: studied Jehovah Witnesses in Britain and questions the significance of marginality and relative deprivation. He found that the members were upper wc and lower mc and showed no signs of deprivation financially or socially. Many joined as they were disillusioned with mainstream traditional religion.

HUNT: there is NOTHING NEW about nrm. They have always been there, regularly appearing over the last 200 years, it is only now there has been an acceleration of nrms in the media which showed them more often and made them appear 'new'.

NIEBHUR: sects are short lived. this is because

  • the second generation born into the sect lacks the commitment of their parents who rejected the world and joined the sect volunatrily.  
  • death of the leader/ members- sect are very dependent on the charismatic leader so when they die, the whole sect collapses. Or some sects deliberately destroy themselves eg Heavens Gate committed mass suicide. 


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gender and religion


MILLER & HOFFMAN- 3 reasons for women's high religiosity

  • RISK: there are gender differences in risk taking, men are LESS risk adverse whereas women are more. By not following religion women worry that they will be sent to hell so they just follow religion but men are not as wary= lower levels of men's religiosity.
  • SOCIALISATION: women are socialised to be passive, obedient and caring- these are qualities valued in religion thus more women than men are attracted to religion
  • GENDER ROLES: men are more likely to be working whereas women work part time or are full-time carers= women have MORE TIME for religious activities etc.

DAVIE: as women are likely to be carers, women see deaths and births SECOND HAND as they look after the sick and elderly. This brings women closer to 'ultimate questions' about the meaning of life that religion is concerned with and entices them further to religion. 

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women and religion p2


  • women are associated with 'nature'- birth, deaths so are attracted to NAMS. this is bc NAM celebrate the 'natural' and involve cults of healing, giving women a higher status and sense of self-worth. BRUCE says that women's experience of child rearing makes them less aggressive and more cooperative and caring. This makes them more suited to NAMS as it fits the expressive emphasis of them.
  • THE INDIVIDUAL SPHERE: women in paid work feel a role conflict between their masculine instrumental role in the public sphere of work and their traditional expressive feminine role in the private sphere of the home. WOODHEAD says for these women, new age beliefs are attractive bc they provide a third sphere= the 'INDIVIDUAL SPHERE' concerned with personal autonomy and growth= creating a new identity for women and a sense of wholeness and personal satisfaction.  
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women and religion p3

STARK AND BRAINBRIGE: religion compensates for 3 types of deprivation which are COMMON AMONG WOMEN which explains women's high levels of sect membership.

  • ORGANISMIC DEPRIVATION: physical and mental health problems. Women are more likely to suffer from these and seek the healing that religion offers.
  • ETHICAL DEPRIVATION: women are more morally conservative and see the world in moral decline and want to make the world a better place= join sects that share this view. 
  • SOCIAL DEPRIVATION: women are more likely to be poor and so are more likely to be in sects compared to men, as they appeal to the poor and oppressed. 

THE PENTECOSTAL GENDER PARADOX: women used religion to increase their standard of living.  Pentecostalism has increased in poor part eg Latin America. Its a patriarchal form of religion that sees men head of the household, but despite its patriarchy, it is attractive to women bc it makes members live ascetic lifestyles (no drink, protitutes, mistreatment) and also regards men to PROVIDE FOR THIER FAMILY. So women used religion to combat 'machismo culture', men pressured to change their ways and act responsibly for their families= so essentially women used religion to make their lives better. 

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a03 for Pentecostal gender paradox

idk if its right but its sorta an evaluation 

you could say it isn't valid at all because women only used religion to make their current lives better, they didn't involve themselves in religion for their own sake- to show devotion to God or other pious purposes; which is what you're supposed to do with religion. These women merely used the name of religion to raise their living standards so they weren't really religious and this shows women's religiosity hasn't increased, perhaps women's high levels of religiosity is actually more of a bogus religiosity. 

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age and religiosity

basic stats: 

  • over 65's more likely to attend church
  • Under 15's have a high rate of participation
  • 15-19 year olds have the lowest rate of attendance 
  • there is an overall decline for all age groups apart from under 15's, they're attending more.

VOAS & CROCKETT: three reasons for differences in ages differences in religiosity

  • AGEING EFFECT: people turn to religion as they get older. As we approach death approach death we naturally become more concerned about spiritual matters= go to church more
  • PERIOD EFFECT: people born in certain periods may be more/less religious because of particular events they've lived through eg wars.  
  • SECULARISATION: in society so each generation becomes less religious than the previous one. This is due to the generational effect in which parents don't socialise their children religiously. 
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age and religiosity p2

PRAGMATIC REASONS: Young people may not be religious/ don't follow it bc societal norms or peer pressure exerts the social pressure not to follow it eg it is 'uncool' and being religious may lead to ridicule. or simply bc young people are too busy and don't have time for religion 

EXPANDING SPIRITUAL MARKETPLACE- LYNCH: young people turn away from religion because there is an expanding marketplace opening up a wide range of new religions, ideas and practices which meet the needs of young people better than mainstream religions.

PRIVATISATION OF BELIEF:  young people may keep their religious beliefs a private matter. They may prefer not to make public displays of their religion and admit to being religious in surveys. They may hold some spiritual beliefs but they may not feel part of a specific religion= DAVIE BELEIVING WITHOUT BELONGING.

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ethnicity and religion

Higher than average participation rates for EM's = em higher religiosity 

EM's arrive from poorer traditional countries so they want to maintain their practice 

CULTURAL DEFENCE BRUCE: religion used as a defence by offering support and cultural identity to ems in a hostile environment. BIRD: religion among ems is a basis for community solidarity, preserving culture and coping with oppression in a racist society. eg black Christians found that white churches weren't very welcoming so they turned to black churches like Pentecostal churches. LINK BIRD TO MALINOSKI PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS. 

CULTURAL TRANSITION: religion is used as a means of easing the transition into a new culture by providing support and a sense of community for minorities in their new environment. HERBERG says this is why there are high levels of religiosity among first gen USA immigrants.  

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ethnicity and religion p2

SOCIAL DEPRIVATION AND MARGINALITY: minorities feel this in mainstream society so turn to religion as a secure sense of identity and status which they find lacking in mainstream society. South Asian women may feel marginalised as they have a poor grasp of English, producing a status frustration and turn to religion to find their status. 

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religion and global development

In a global context, religion has contributed to areas such as economic development( POSIVITE IMPACT) AND fundamentalism ( NEGATIVE IMPACT) 

NANDA- HINDUISM AND GLOBALISATION IN INDIA: globalisation has brought rapid economic growth in India. Globalisation has created a prosperous scientifically educated new MC in India working in pharmaceuticals and I.T. According to secularisation, it is these exact people that were to abandon religion as they think more secular eg technological world view. However, Nanda found that they acc still has high levels of religiosity, it hasn't declined as expected but rather 30% more become more religious. THIS IS BECUASE OF THE AMBIVALENCE OF THIER NEW FOUND WEALTH. This ambivalence stems from the ascetic nature of the religion as Hinduism rejects materialism and worldly desires. So the new mc turn to holy men that tells them the desire isn't wrong, its a MANIFESTATION OF DIVINITY, 'Business friendly' Hinduism reduces guilt by teaching that consumerism can be spiritually balanced by paying for rituals. She also says Indias success is attributed to the superiority of INDIAN VALUES and people start worshipping the state this is known as HINDU ULTA NATIONALISM and is basically CIVIL RELIGION.  

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globalisation and religion p2

another example of how religion as impacted global development

CAPITALISM IN EAST ASIA- REDDING: East Asia tiger economies such as China and south Korea have industrialised rapidly. china is now a major industrial power because of Confucianism that ENCOURAGES hard work, discipline and commitment which ultimately promotes economic development and capitalism, their work ethic and value system are similar to that of Calvinism, enabling them to achieve economic growth.

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religion and fundamentalism

Here we can see that the relationship between globalisation and religion is NEGATIVE because it has resulted in fundamentalism. 


  • AGGRESSIVE REACTION: fundamentalists feel their beliefs and values are threatened so they react in an aggressive way in which they intend to shock, intimidate and harm.  
  • USE OF TECHNOLOGY: this is a direct link to globalisation. They reject modern society completely but use modern methods like technology to express their views and achieve their aims eg isis use Twitter to recruit members.  
  • PATRIARCHY: favour a world controlling women's sexuality and their socio-economic roles- claimed its fixed by the Divine. eg Boko Haram captured Nigerian school girls bc they 'were now allowed' to get an education.
  • US AND THEM MENTALITY: as in they separate themselves from the rest of the world
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fundamentalism and modernity

DAVIE: says fundamentalists are a product of modernity because traditional beliefs and values are being threatened by modernity so they want to defend themselves against modernity by fighting back.

GIDDENS: fundamentalism is the product of globalisation which undermines traditional societal norms eg abortions, homosexuality. But today's late modern society gives individuals CHOICE and fundamentalists see this as creating risk and uncertainty. Thus they promise certainty through their RIGID DOGMATIC BELIEFS (they claim a monopoly of religion) and faith based answers and some are attracted to this. In contrast to fundamentalists, globalisation has also created COSMOPOLITANISM: people/ societies that are tolerant of other views and embrace modernity.  

similarly, BAUMAN says fundamentalists are a response to postmodernity. DIVERSITY and CHOICE are prime aspects in a PO MO society and fundamentalists see them as risks so they aim to attempt to eliminate these risks eg carry out attacks. 

CASTELL: there are two responses to postmodernity 
RESISTANCE SOCIETY: a defensive reaction of those who feel threatened ( fundies) 
PROJECT IDENTITY: those who are forward looking and engage with social movements (cos)

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fundamentalism p3

I ran out of place on the previous slide but fundies= fundamentalism and cos= cosmopolitanism.
we could say cosmopolitanism is seen today bc it is TODAY'S SOCIETY, very liberal, tolerant and embracing modernity eg seen today through major untraditional changes gay people can now marry= 2014 marriage act.

BRUCE: supports Giddens. Says fundamentalism is found in MONTHIESTIC RELIGIONS as they are strict and rigid because their sacred texts outline the word of God and LAYS DOWN SPECIFIC RULES TO FOLLOW. whereas polytheistic religions are LESS LIKELY TO PROMOTE FUNDAMENTALISTS as these religions eg Hinduism believe in more than one God and LACK A SINGLE AUTHORITATIVE TEXT= likely to have different interpretations so no one has a dominant truth. He also identifies two fundamentalisms 

  • IN THE WEST: arises due to changes in society eg NCR 
  • IN THE EAST: arises due to changes being thrust upon from the outside. 
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clash of civilisations

HUNTINGTON: In recent years religion has been at the centre of global conflicts. Huntington says this is due to a CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS in which two or more civilisations clash creating an 'us and them' relationship, competing for economic and military power.

He identified 7 civilisations: Western, Latin American, Islamic, Confucianism, Japanese, Hindu and Slavic. Each of these has a common cultural background and history and is closely identified with one of the world's religions. 

Globalisation has contributed to this conflict between civilisations bc it has made nation states less significant as a source of identity, creating a gap which RELIGION FILLS and becomes an identity. Another reason how globalisation can lead to conflict is bc it increases the contacts between civilisations = likelihood of conflict. 

Religious conflicts are hard to resolve bc they are DEEPLY ROOTED in culture and history in which people don't want to let go of. Huntington identifies a growing conflict between the West and Islam and the West should reassert their Christian identity. 

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clash of civilisations ao3 and CULTURAL DEFENCE

CASSANOVA: Huntington only focuses on conflicts with other civilisations and he ignores internal religious conflicts within the civilisation itself eg Protestants and Catholics 

JACKSON: clash of civilisations is merely an example of orientalism, reflecting Western stereotypes of Muslims as untrustworthy and inferior. This has an impact today as this ideology may have led to a rise in Islamophobic attacks as the West portray them in a bad light. 

BRUCE- CULTURAL DEFENCE: the function of religion is to unite a community against an external threat, religion symbolises the group and provides a collective identity. Religion is used to defend a society's national identity in the threat of an external political power- show in

  • IRANIAN REVOLUTION: the external power was western capitalism. Irans gov was overthrown by western capitalist powers to install a pro-western regime headed by the Shah. Bought it modernisation and took away their Islamic identity. but Islam became the tool of defence and resistance and later on bought change by returning to 'old' Iran. 
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science as a belief system

A BELIEF SYSTEM: is a knowledge claim, it gives us facts about things, a set of ideas that guides our behaviour.

science is value free, objective and evidence based, its open to ideas- tested and proved wrong with more accurate ideas to replace them. 

SCIENCE IS AN OPEN BELIEF SYSTEM- POPPER: because the aim of science is to constantly try and prove existing theories AS FALSE so knowledge improves. This means that in science there is NO ABSOLUTE or SACRED TRUTH and everything is open to scrutiny, criticism and testing so theories could be proved wrong. This shows that scientific knowledge is constantly building upon the achievements of previous scientists, so it's CUMULATIVE. Science, therefore, differs from religion because someone can always disprove the theory whereas religion has a fixed, sacred truth that cannot be challenged. 

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science p2

MERTON CUDOS NORMS-  science has a set of norms and values  (SO ITS AN OPEN BELIEF SYSTEM) that make scientists act in ways that aim to achieve the goal of increasing scientific knowledge.

  • COMMUNISM: scientific knowledge is not private, it must be shared so knowledge and findings can grow
  • UNIVERSALISM: scientific knowledge is judged by universal objective criteria, it is not judged by the scientist's gender or ethnicity etc
  • DISINTERESTEDNESS: committed to studying science/ discovering knowledge for its own sake 
  • ORGANISED SCEPTICISM: no knowledge is sacred and everything is open to criticism.
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closed belief systems HORTON

HORTON: Science is an open system bc it is open to testing. He says religion is a CLOSED BELIEF SYSTEM- the knowledge is NOT OPEN FOR TESTING. This is because religion claims to have special and perfect knowledge of the absolute truth. Its knowledge is sacred and religious organisations say it is GODS DIVINE AUTHORITY- cannot be challenged, you will be punished. A closed belief system like religion offers 'GET OUT CLAUSES' that prevent religion from being disproved or criticised. 

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science as a closed belief system

POLYANI: says that belief systems have 3 factors that help sustain it when faced with contradictory evidence 

  • A CIRCULARITY OF BELIEFS: each idea in the system is explained in relation to others 
  • SUBSIDISING EXPLANATIONS: if any evidence is shown to contradict the belief, there will be a reason to explain it
  • REJECTING OTHER BELIEFS: no other belief systems can be tolerated 

So according to Polyani, science is a closed belief system bc ALL belief systems reject challenges to their knowledge and science is no different. 

KHUN: would say that science is a closed system because scientists follow a paradigm which tells scientists what to study, what to do and what not to do- its basically a framework thus scientific knowledge is socially constructed and subjective rather than objective. 

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the sociology of scientific knowledge

INTERPRETIVISTS: say scientific knowledge is a social construct, it's not an objective truth as the knowledge is created by scientists using resources they have eg paradigms.

WOOLGAR- LITTLE GREEN MEN: says scientists are engaged in the process of interpreting the world because when confronted by evidence from their findings, they have to decide what it means and then persuade others to beleive it. 


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IDEOLOGY: a belief system, a set of norms and values

negative aspects of ideology

  • provide distorted ideas about the world, a ONE SIDED AND BIAS VIEW 
  • ideas that serve and legitimises a particular group
  • ideas that prevent change by misleading people about the reality of their situation. 
  • a self-sustaining belief system that is irrational and closed to criticism 

MARXISM AND IDEOLOGY: ideologies are a false picture imposed by the rc. the wc live by this ideology and if they want to stop being exploited they must develop class consciousness. However the rc own the mental means of production and through institutions like education and religion, the rc ideology is doled out. 

RC ideology includes ideas and beliefs to function and prevent change, and to maintain a false class consciousness to eliminate the prospect of a revolution and overthrowing rc ideology.  

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marxism and ideology p2

GRAMSCI: calls the domination of the rc ideology HEGEMONY= DOMINANT RC IDEOLOGY. the wc can challenge hegemony as they have a DUAL CONSCIOUSNESS this means the wc are aware of the hegemony and their exploitation. However, to revolt, the wc need to develop an alternative proletarian hegemony and thus require a party of 'organic intellectuals'= workers that have developed a class consciousness.

ABERCROMBIE: it is not the rc hegemony that prevents a revolution, its actually the fear of unemployment that keeps them from rebelling.

NATIONALISM: an important political ideology that claims nations are real distinctive communities. It emphasises that national identity and loyalty should come BEFORE EVERYTHING INCLUDING CLASS AND RELIGION.

MARX says nationalism is a form of false consciousness bc it helps to prevent capitalism from being overthrown by dividing the international wc. This is bc nationalism encourages workers to believe they have more in common with the capitalists of their own country than with workers of other countries. 

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see nationalism as  SECULAR CIVIL RELIGION. Nationalism integrates individuals together making them feel part of something greater than themselves. Nationalism functions as a civil religion because people worship a nation, unites people into a single national community regardless of differences like gender and class. 

MANNHEIM: sees all belief systems and ideologies as a one-sided world view. Believes ideology can be defined in two ways 

IDEOLOGICAL THOUGHT: a set of beliefs used to justify and perpetuate an existing social order eg such as the rc place in society. This system keeps things the way they are, prevents social change, is conservative and favours hierarchy. 

UTOPIAN THOUGHT: a set of beliefs that justifies social change. Suggests how the world can be organised in the future. It is formed by the oppressed groups that want radical change. 

he suggests that worldviews created groups of intellectuals who only attach themselves to particular classes. Worldviews only give a partial view of reality because these intellectuals represent the interests of some groups, not society as a whole.

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feminism and ideology

gender inequality is the fundamental division in society and patriarchal ideology is KEY TO LEGITIMISING IT

Gender differences is a feature in all societies and there exist loads of different ideologies to justify it. MARKS: says that ideas from science have been used to justify women's exclusion from education as 19th-century doctors and scientists had the view educating females would lead to the creation of a ' RACE OF PUNY AND UNFEMININE FEMALES' which disqualified women from their 'true' vocation- nurturing the next generation.

Religious ideas also legitimate women's inferiority eg religions such as Islam have the idea that women during menstruation are impure so prohibits them from entering Mosque. 

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the end

lmAO das the end of the course, hope it helps :) 

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