Beliefs in Society

Functionalism and religion

The Body Analogy Functionalists believe that society can be likened to organisms. Institutions (education, government) are like organs working for a purpose together (social solidarity). They cannot work alone, only together. Like the body, society also rids itself of unnecassary elements.

Criticisms of this include: "Illnesses" of society - who are they determined by? It is too conservative.

Durkheim (1912) Religion can help maintain social order and aid integration through concensus. Religion divides society into the sacred (special/ extraordinary) and the profane (normal). People having sacred (not necassarily spiritual) things which bind them together creates social solidarity through totemism.This can be seen in ethnic minorities dependence on certain traditions.

Criticisms of this include: Evidence for toteism being unsound people cannot agree (Worsely 1956). Durkheim is too much focussed on a single religion. Hard to apply to large scale societies. Postmodernists (e.g. Mestrovic 1997) argued it does not work in a diverse society.

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Functionalism and religion - 2

Parsons (1957) belived that society and law was generally underpinned by religious (Christian) values and they contribute to the way we are governed. For example. many of the ten commandments translate into today's laws and the idea of moral right and wrong could be defined by the Golden Rule (Love thy neighbour).

Criticisms of this could include: Postmodernists (Mestrovic 1997) would argue that religion is too diverse, and this doesn't account for rebellion.

Malinowski (1922) argued that religion often acts as a 'safety net' explanation for people suffering extreme circumstances. E.g. death. Supernatural aspect provides comfort.

Criticisms of this could include: In modern times, other people often turn to alternative, less conventional comforts.

Bellah (1970) theorised on Civil Religion. This is the idea that government have some form of control through unifying people in state religion. E.g. Pledge alliegance to God/America. This increases loyalty/social solidarity

Criticisms of this could include: Does not account for divisions e.g. ireland.

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Marxism and religion

Religion as a conservative force is the idea that religion is an institution which acts to preserve society in its current state, and exercises social control. It keeps the bourgeoisie in their position. Better to control minds than merely bodies.

Althusser (1969) Religion is created/promoted by the bourgeoisie in order to pass on dominant ISA and RSA. Things like army and police are physical RSA and the judicary and religion are intellectual ISA.

Religion and Work Some links can be seen between religion and an emphasis on work. Jesus and Mohammed had 'lowly' proletariat jobs yet were great people - proving that there is hope (preventing a revolution). RCI only does half a job - people must benefit from work.

Marx (1860) "Religion is opium of the masses." It relieves pain of alienation, gives a benefit to work, promises a perfect life in heaven, dulls the pain of oppression and sometimes explicitly encourages status (e.g. Hindu caste system).


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Marxism and religion - 2

Criticisms of the marxists perspective on religion could include:

1. The "opium of the masses" idea is flawed It only has drugging effect if people take it as such. Many people are encouraged to challenge their own religion.

2. More secularised society People are less inclined to do things simply becuase they are religious. Religion has no institutional power. It can act as a resistance to powerful, bourgeoisie ideas.

3. Islamic fundamentalists are a good example of bourgeoisie ideas being cast out, and western ideas being revolutionised.

4. Religion sometimes overthrows powers e.g. Overthrowing dictatorial monarchy in Iran.

5. The Liberation Theology Movement Preists in Latin America preached Communism alongside Catholicism.

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Gramsci: Devloped views from marx on Hegemony.

Hegemony: Process of dominant ideology becoming the norm of the proletariat. Ruling class maintains ideology through institutions, becomes the values and beliefs of proletariat.

Institutionally, religion is part of control. People believe if they work hard they will be rewarded in heaven, reflected in economic values. Backed by Webers ideas on social change.

Religion does have revolutionary aspect. One thing that could make people band together against bourgeoisie.

In some cases, beliefs are no more or less powerful than economic values. e.g. capitalism just as important as church.

Religion can support or discourage class.

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Feminism and Religion

Patriarchy: According to feminists, patriarchy is rife within religion. Places of worship, sacred texts, religious laws regarding sexuality.

Religious Organisations: Generally male dominated. Women participate more, but at a lower level. Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism forbid women priests. Karen Armstrong (1993): sees this as proof of marginalisation.

Places of Worship: Segregation and marginalisation. In some temples, women sit behind screens (men are more central). Women's participation restricted. Taboos surrounding menstruation and sacred books. Holm (1994) describes "devaluation of women in religion".

Sacred texts: Largely feature male gods/ prophets. Stories often reflect anti-female stereotypes (Mary washing Jesus' feet). Men save the day, male disciples.

Religious Laws/ Customs: Women have fewer rights e.g. dress. Religion has influence on cultural norms, legitimates traditional culture. Woodhead (2002) Exclusion of women in catholic church is evidence.

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Feminism and Religion - 2

Daly (1978): "Christianity is a patriarchal myth. Eliminates other Goddess religions. Christianity is roots in male sado-rituals." Religion is oppressive to women.

Simon de Beavoir (1953): Religion gives confirmation that social order is correct, and provides hope of equality in a sexless heaven.

Woodhead (2002): There are forms of religious feminism. Veil is a symbolism against oppression, allowing women to not be objectified for looks. Postmodernism - religion is sense of identity,

Watson (1994): Interviewed three women about what the veil meant to them. Not enough information.


Woodhead (2002): Respects the roles in the home. Being evangelical can be empowering. Linked to gender roles. Men are taught to respect women. Gender neutral love from God.

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Weber and religion

The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) is the idea that religion and capitalism are linked. Capitalism shapes intstitutions, and therefore shapes religion. In turn, religion encourages capitalism.

Social Action Theory is central to this argument and studies the interation of humans with society and how humans interpret things. Reality is a construction by the individual. Verstehen (another weber theory) is also central to this debate.

Weber vs Marx Marx belived economy was the shaper of religion, whereas weber concluded that religion was the shaper of the economy. Weber challenges the materialism and economic determinism that Marxism revolves around. Marx also thought society influenced humans, rahter than the other way round.

Industrialisation Weber thought that societies were built around industry. The strength of a country's industry would equal the strength of it's economy.

The Protestant Faith Weber believed that this was what led to capitalism. Calivinist protestants who feared hell and saw living a good life as justification that they were the 'elect'. The panic involved led to frugal lives and tithing.

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Weber and religion - 2

The Protestant Work Ethic involved a number of things, including abstaining from pleasure, having austere lifestyles, strict delf discipline, having a 'calling' (career) which was their way to please God. Hard work was a sign of obedience to God and money should be invested into business. They dissaproved of time wasting, idleness, hedonistic lifestyles and gossip. This lead to more wealth through the rise of capitalism. Money was not spent on personal gain, but on investment and hard work, making the economy and church strong. The single-minded pursuit of a God-given calling made capitalism an obligation.

Some criticisms of this may include:

Stombart argues that Calvinism was in fact against the pursuit of personal, bourgeoisie wealth.

Many Calvinist nations were under-developed indication that it was not this which led to functional capitalism.

Kautsky argued that Calvinism emerged where industry was already developed, meaning it could not be solely responsible for the establishment of Capitalism.

Social Systems individuals do not influence society.

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Post-modernism and Religion

In the modern age, the world is not defined by a metanarrative (Lyotard 1984). Life is uncertain, face paced and chaotic.

Postmodernists: Religons, science, Ideology are all different. Institutions are metanarratives and limit things too much, limiting understanding.

Science is negative becuase developemtns can create evil. e.g. superbugs.

Heelas (1998) - Religion (esp. New Age ideas) fills the void of Postmodernism. Bauman (1992) suggested a 'crisis of meaning' in modern in society. Secularisation sees decline in metanarrative (Lyotard)

Identity formation in a post-modern society is difficult. Joining a NRM etc. can replace identity formerly defined by class, age etc.

Religious diversity in post-modern societies is more pick-and choose. No obligation, less commitment. Lyon (2002) speaks of Disneyfication of religion. diminishes human life through trvialising it. Relgion is too diluted so people come it has lost integrity.

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Belief systems and ideology

Beliefs are things which people think are true. Beliefs in society are diverse, and include religious beliefs. Often, people's beliefs refer to their thoughts on fundamental human choices, ethics and life after death etc. The supernatural (e.g. Wicca) could also be included in this.

Social significance of beliefs is also important. Religious group's interactions realtionship with wider society etc.

An ideology refers to a set of beliefs or values shared by a group. They ususally help interpret the world but will present a partial or incomplete view of life. Often, they help to ligitimise certain characteristics of a lifestyle.

Different types of ideology include pluralist, patriarchal, political and Marxist.

Hegemony Antonio Gramsci theorised on the idea of the bourgeoisie passing down and encouraging the working class to take their ideology. Religion is part of this dominant ideology.

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Belief systems and ideology

Beliefs are things which people think are true. Beliefs in society are diverse, and include religious beliefs. Often, people's beliefs refer to their thoughts on fundamental human choices, ethics and life after death etc. The supernatural (e.g. Wicca) could also be included in this.

Social significance of beliefs is also important. Religious group's interactions realtionship with wider society etc.

An ideology refers to a set of beliefs or values shared by a group. They ususally help interpret the world but will present a partial or incomplete view of life. Often, they help to ligitimise certain characteristics of a lifestyle.

Different types of ideology include pluralist, patriarchal, political and Marxist.

Hegemony Antonio Gramsci theorised on the idea of the bourgeoisie passing down and encouraging the working class to take their ideology. Religion is part of this dominant ideology.

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Ideology and religion

Religion offers a way to to interpret and understand the world, much like an ideology. However, because of their supernatural and sacred tendancies, religions are not simply a way of interpreting society, but add another dimension to society/the world. Asoects of religion include:

  • Belief in the spiritual and supernaural - Another force, greater than humans
  • Faith on the part of believers - hvaing faith in hte supernatural force (not based on empirical evidence)
  • A body of unchangin truth - fundamental/ unchangeable truths e.g. Jesus rising form the dead

Religion does not come out of the interests of a group bu is above humans. In this way, it is not an ideology. However, it can become part of an ideology as people may use religion to self serve (e.g. hegemony)

For example, some fundamentalists in the USA and Europe believe in Intelligent Design, and use this in order to encourage the teaching of it in schools.

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Sects and cults definitions

A sect has a close knit, small collection of followers and will often appeal to the oppressed. They are in opposition to conformist world views and are expected to be highly commited to the sect. Sects can also be hostile to other organisations. Initiation has to be voluntary and people have to prove their commitment to the values of the sect. The organisation will be quite rigid, normally with one charismatic leader. Sects claim to have a monopoly on the truth.

A cult is like a sect in that it promotes alternative lfestyles. However, it does not have the exclusive style of commitment required by a sect, and it's emphasis on individuality means that people can participate at will. For example, a self-help lifestyle could be considered a cult (e.g. cosmic ordering). There is often an emphasis on spirituality and New Age beliefs. Cults do not claim to have a monopoly on the truth.

Reasons for growth/ appeal of sects & cults: 1. NRM are less conformists and more post-modern than Churches etc. 2. Heelas ('96); acts as 'missing piece' in successful lives. Reduce stress. Escape from real life. 3. Secularisation (Weber 1920) disenchantment with religion. 4. Fills vacuum of meaning from lack of metanarrative (Lyotard '84).  5. Identity formation. 6. Globalisation/media makes it more accessible. 7. Lack of integration

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New Religious Movements

  • Emerged after the Second World War/1960's. Mainly tied to sects and cults. Not in common with established church. Aldridge (2007) labelled many as controversial.
  • Features include: 1. Religion concerned with spiritually. 2. Generally first generation supporters. 3. High turnover of members. 4. Charismatic leaders. 5. One truth. "Chosen ones" are followers. 6. Hostility toward outsiders - them/ us mentality. 7. Recieve hostility from others. 8. Generally short-lived esp. world rejecting.

Three Types of NRM:

  • World Rejecting NRM - Controversial, hostile cults or sects. Generally treated with suspiion by onlookers. Can hold millinerian (otherworldly supernatural beliefs). Require dramatic change in lifestyles and reject conformity. Tiny memebership often emphasised by media. Examples: Moonies, Hare Krishnas, The People's Temple (1995)
  • World Accomdating NRM - Often denominations or offshoots from Christianity. Member's rediscover spirituality Religion becomes personal, typically white middle class, conformists. Neo-Pentecostalism or Charismatics.
  • World Affirming NRM - Wallis described as cults. Lack traditional religious traits, more of a therapy. Unlock sirituality. E.g. scientology. Success measured on society standard
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New Age Movement Groups

  • Refers to diversity of ideas on mind, body and spirit. Prominent in 1980's. Combines religious/ occult ideas. Not normally supernatural beliefs.
  • Heelas (1996) New Age = Range of beliefs. more about self-spirituality. Personal to everyone, pick and choose. Post-modern.
  • Bruce's (2002) definition:

1. Emphasizes 'freeing the self wihin'

2. Everything is connected holistically. Mind, body and spirit is intertwined.

3. The self is the final authority. If it 'feels' right, do it.

4. The Global Cafeteria. People post-modernly pick and choose the aspects which are personal to them.

5. Therapy. New Age Ideas designed to be therapeutic.c

  • Suttliffe (2003) - Can NAM even be classed as a thing? It is too diverse to classify. Just self discovery over analysed.
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Science and Knowledge

What is science? Methods which aspire to establish facts on the world etc. Competitor to religion - often conflicting. Object/ value freedom.

Popper (2002): Discussed hypothesis formation and falsification. Theory formation more valid if looking for evidence to disporive it.

Science as a social product: Science, like society is challenged/changed all the time. Popper - can not really prove anything becuase of its social circumstance, hence flasification. Kuhn - mnay things exist in terms on a scientific paradigm.

Paradigms and Scientific revolutions: Science exists within a set of values. Scientific world has 'approved rules'. May lead to overlooking most important aspects of evidence because of disproving aim. Less valid.

Social Influences Include: Values/ beliefs of society, career aspirations, funding sources, influences or funders.

Science can be seen as ideology. Not always objective due to influences.

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Spirituality and Religion

The Sacred and Profane: Durkehim (1912). "A unified set of beliefs and practices". All relative to being 'sacred' - beyond normality or 'profane' - everyday/ordinary. Religion is all things which are held sacred.

The functional/inclusivist definition of religion: Beliefs which people give sacred qualities. Not necassarily supra-beings or supernatural. E.g. football teams.

Substantive/ Exclusivist definitions of religion: Focusses on supra-being. Not everything can be sacred. Conventional 'religion' e.g. Christianity and Islam and less conventional e.g. Wicca.

Features of religions: Beliefs/values are supernatural/ humanity is incomprehensible. Theology is teaching (e.g. Holy Book). Generally have rituals. organisation through institutions and leaders. Moral values and consequences for evading.

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Sources: Primary/ Secondary

Secondary sources: Rely on other materials. Not a direct study of religion. E.g. use of documents, diaries etc. to gain information about religion. Data which already exists, not created by the researcher.

Reliability: Questions about the reliability/ validity in terms of religion. For example, George Bush's diary in order to measure American feeling toward Islam.

Sociologist's perspective on religion can affect research. May look for certain research in order to prove one thing or another.

Primary Research: Observation, surveys, questionnaires etc. Researcher created data.

  • Churches: Open access to everyone, including researchers making it easy to investigate.
  • Denominations: Easy to access and generally accepting of outsiders.
  • Sects: Hostile toward outsiders, who are unlikely to gain access. "One truth" conflicts with research
  • Cults: Accepting, would participate in research.
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Gender & Religion

Sexuality and Religion: Celibacy and R.C. Priests (Bird 1999). Some interpretations of Christianity/Islam opposed to homosexuality. Asceticism: denying one 'earthly pleasures' to achieve spiritual goals. Many religions. Turner (1983).

Davie (1994) Men view god as masculine, strong and powerful. Women view him as loving and compassionate.

Polytheistic: In the Bronze age, most religions worshipped male and female Gods. Goddesses have a role. (Anderson)

Monotheistic: Invasions and wars led to one masculine God.

Gender inequality: Holm (1994) Male God is the origin of patriarchy. e.g. Buddhist monks ranked higher than nuns. Hinduism: only males can become Brahman. Catholicism: Women cannot hold office. Islam: Women cannot enter mosques at certain times. Orthodox Jews: No female participation in ceremonies.

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Gender & Religion - 2

Reasons for inequality: In some religions (e.g. Hinduism) menstruation makes women unclean. Not allowed near shrines etc. Muslim women cannot touch the Quo'ran. Seen as a 'discraction' from worship.

Evidence of equality: Sikh women are allowed to hold office. Quakers have absoloute equality. 60% Salvation Army ministers are female. Methodism - male and female leaders.


Women appear to be more commited. Particpation is greater. Women participate through home activities. Women's gender roles - education of children, being in charge of the shrine, sunday school, flower arranging.

Reasons for this include: Less demanding jobs, biological infleunce of spirituality, responsibility to children, links to schools etc.

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Gender & Religon - 3

New Religious Movements:

  • Bruce (1995) estimated and 2:1 female:male ratio in New Religious Movements.
  • Women more likely to experience deprivation.
  • Thompson (1996) "Women may not have the same economic and social standing but all sect members have the promise of salvation and the knowledge that they are enlightened."
  • Glock and Stark (1969) Lack of power, prestige, status and satisfaction. Gained in sect.
  • Women in the lower classes are empowered by evangelical goals.
  • Organismic Deprivation: Women turn to sects in hope of being healed from mental and physical problems.
  • Ethical Deprivation: Separate from the reality of the world. The People's Temple was mainly women, who found equality.

Cults and Leadership:

  • Women are able to participate from home, alongside life at leisure. Able to achieve rank
  • Miller and Hoffman (1995): Women more likely to express interest. Deep commitment.
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Gender & Religion - 4

Differential socialisation: Boys who are religious are more likely to be more religious. Girls treated to be submissive, obedient and nurturing.

Differential roles: Inequality. Females have lower levels of employment. More church time. Greater need for identity - not in career etc.

Reasons for decline in number of women in church:

  • NRM can be done from home - less obvious.
  • Family diversity - family stereotype encourage by church.
  • Start of 20th century, 1/3 women employed. Now 2/3.
  • Socialisation - influence of ladette culture.
  • Postmodernism - more ways to create identity.
  • Sexuality - less conformist.
  • Women's liberation.
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Social Class and Religion

Social Class: Highly subjective. What you percieve to be you own class someone may think differently. Measured officially by job. Decline of manufacturing industry - does this make everyone more middle class?

Class in Religious texts: Stratification (ranking) by class. Hinduism and the caste system is a good example of this.

Class within the church: Generally middle class congregations. Positions normally held by more middle class people.

Class participation: Semi-skilled/ unskilled worker least attendance. Higher social class, more educated, more senior jobs, more likely to worship. Ashworth and Farthing (2007) most likely to attend is higher social class. Working class are alienated within the church. Lower social class = sects.

Middle class more geographically mobile. Move to new area = new church community. Brierly (1999) Church going declining overall, esp. in poorer communities.

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Social Class and Religion - 2

NRM - More likely to be used by working class. Requires member's to donate worldly goods (easier to give up). More likely to experience deprivation and alienation from society. Sects appeal to under privileged. Rarely experience rewards. Offer them ultimate salvation.

Cult - Middle Classes. Based on a need for commitment which they can provide. Self-improvement. Financial contribution. Level of education required. spiritually complete package of money/spirit. Bruce (1995) Spiritual growth.

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Religion and Age

Young People: 36% people 18-34 Atheist or Agnostic. 65% 12-19 not religious. Services are boring, old fashioned, aimed at elderly, out of touch with young people and have controversial views.

Expanding Spiritual Marketplace: Roof (2001). Lynch (2008) young people turn way from religion. Explore more controversial aspects Postmodern identity.

Believing without belonging: No public show of belief, but it exists. Personal. Often more generally spiritual.

Secular spirituality: Lynch - the young are diverted from religion. Sacred is related to non-religious world.

Bruce (1995): CofE Sunday school decreasing year on year. 1 in 25 now go. Reasons include leisured activities on offer more demands on time, other interests, 'uncool' religion.

The Generation Effect: Each generation more secular due to socialisation. Voas & Crockett - cohorts are less religious.

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Religion and Age - 2

Modood et al (1994). Studied ethnic minorities, Decline in all religions. More flexible. Fewer observe rules.

Sikh Identity: Drury (1991) Girls 16-20 saw their Sikhism as important to identity. Less commited however. Modood (1994) vrtually all second generation Punjabis never mentioned Sikhism.

Bruce: Identifies Cultural defense and Cultural transition as causes of high religiosity.


  • Religion exists becuase it is crutch for identity, not spirituality.
  • Religion will survive where it performs role. Perhaps phased out with post-modernism?
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Ethncity and Religion

Ethnicity and religion: Differentiates other social groups. Refers to shared culture and identity of one group. Religion identity can be key shared factor in religion.

Minority ethnic groups: Afro-Caribbeans - biggest portion of Christianity. 17% attend church. Pentecostal and charismatic movement very large. Generally well integrated into society. Identity doesn't matter as much. Mix Christian/ Non Christian beliefs. Asian Religious groups. Young people have equal opportunities. The Caste System rooted in Hinduism can influence life choice. 

Religious commitment in ethnic minorities: repeated evidence of ethnic minorities being more religious than white majority. 2007, 6% population went to church one in 6 being black. 1997 Muslim men 35+ went to Mosque once a week. Current trend - Muslims soon to outnumber Anglicans. Mosques/Temples opening, Churches closing. Growing pressure for state funded faith schools.

Reasons for religion: Davie (1994) community identity, Oppression (Marx), Solidarity, Family pressure, origins (Bird), social identity, social deprivation.

Islam and culture post-9/11.

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Fundamentalism represents culture war. Clash between the sacred and a secular society. Origins in 1800's USA, where liberal protestantism was met with radical conservatism. Became known as The Fundamentalists.

Characteristics include: Taking holy texts incredibly literally. Rejection of religious pluralism. Has important implications for what schools teach etc.

Bruce (2000): Main cause of fundamentalism is world's rapid change threatening tradition of religion and their ability to reproduce these.

Profound rejection of society as morally corrupt and they find the varety of choice problematic. Fundamentalists assert tradition.

Fundamentalism Reinforces nationalism: Deep seated fears of strangers.

Marketing: Use of technology/ up to date communication to reach out.

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Secularisation - Evidence for

Definition: Wilson (1996) "Process whereby religious thinking, practice and institution loses social significance."Difficult to define what 'religion' is. Durkheim (1912) defined it as 'worship of the sacred'. Functional/Inclusivist definitions requires supernatural influence.

Evidence for decline in influence:

  • Bruce (2002) - Growth in science/technology has caused lack of faith in supernatural being.
  • The marginalisation of faith by the media etc. makes it the last resort, alternative forms of help sought first. 
  • Decline in moral influence (by Church's standard. Has little influence over people.
  • Fragmentation of beliefs splits faith thinner. NRM take away from mainstream.
  • Decline of meta-narratives: Post-modernists (Lyotard 1984) interested in self.
  • Decline in knowledge. 72% population know little about Christianity etc.

Evidence for decline in participation:

  • Census 2011 - 39% 'No religion' - second most popular answer.
  • 48% of 20% people who are religious do not attend church.
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Secularisation - Evidence against

Evidence against a decline in participation:

  • Going to services is not what makes someone religious - belonging without believing.
  • People worship in their own home (NRMs etc.)
  • Not all faiths/religions are declining. E.g. Islam.
  • Rites of passage are often still religious. E.g. Christenings, funerals, weddings.
  • Still maintain institutional power.

Evidence against a decline in influence of religion:

  • 70% people still show spirituality or an element of religiosity.
  • Age of uncertainty means people search for understanding.
  • Desacralisation - people's beliefs have simply changed. Secularisation is not necessarily about a stagnant religion.
  • Many traditions remains strong. E.g. Christmas, Easter.
  • The lack of or increase in "immoral acts" is entirely subjective and cannot be solely attributed to a lack of religion.
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Secularisation - 2

Unreliable Statistics:

  • Data collection methods vary over time.
  • Cannot guarantee accuracy of statistics.
  • Do some religious organisations distort own figures? Catholic church under-estimate for tax write off. Anglicans estimate higher for less church closures.

Invalid Surveys

  • Hadaway et al (1984) Telephone surveys of attendance. Led to social desirability. Inaccurate as counting church attendance by cars. How seriously are surveys taken - reliability.
  • 2001 census - tick list, had to choose one religion. Validity?

Resacularisation: What is sacred changing. Durkheim argued 'awe' was lost and rationalism instilled. However, people do not want t put all faith in science. Resurgence of the sacred.

Vicarious Religion: Culture that is religious makes inhabitants religious. Still exposed to religion.

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Secularisation - 3

Armond - Growth of Fundamentalism. Jews in israel, Muslims in Pakistan, Christians in USA.

Malinowski - Religion acts as a coping mechanism for people.

Privatisation of beliefs - Davie (1996) Increase of people believing without belonging. People view religion differently.

Roof - Spiritual marketplace. Very postmodern.

Heelas (2004) - Hollistic revolution.

Giddens - Globalisation is prevalent in process.

Televangelism - Leon

Stark and Bainbridge (1985) - Religion when there is benefits. Secularisation is not the end - cyclical. Needed for moral guidance in society. May lead to Anomie.

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Secularisation - Davie

Grace Davie (1996):

  • Religiosity is mutating. People believe without belonging. 
  • Less conventional religiosity has increased.
  • "European exceptionalism" - Unattended religion. In times of need/ crisis people still expect it to be there
  • Vicariousness - Minority will maintain religion traditions.
  • Davie critical of Western sociologists who focus on Christianity. Generalise on other religions. Different from the rest of the world in Europe.

Classification of belief:

  • Inner cities, belief is down, run down environment
  • In city centres, belief is more civic. centres around Cathedrals etc.
  • In suburbs, belief is more active. Middle class.
  • In the countryside, belief s assumed through social events etc.
  • CofE belief can be considered vicariousness.
  • Roman Catholic church - mass attendance crucial.
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Secularisation - Bruce

Bruce (2002): Secularisation not necessarily 100% secular society. Just diminished. Reduced religiosity.

Religion in the past: Assumed 'golden age', myth.

Opposes Stark (1985): Stark argued it is still prominent, just different. Bruce argues NRMs/NA religion does not account for 17% decrease. Since 1900.

New Age Religion: No more than 100,00 people in Britain Cannot have absorbed decline. Too fleeting in its nature.

Easternisation of Religion in NRMs. Backlash against Western morals. influence of immigration.

Science is not the cause of secularisation. Cultural pluralism forces acceptance of religion.

Regression to the mean: Churches are diluting teachings in order to attract more people

Conclusion: People are indifferent, loss of religious socialisation, removal of common faith.

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Fundamentalism - 2

Grassroots: Fundamentalist oragnisations are genrally non-elitist. do-it-yourself ethos. Little hierarchy and active roles encouraged for all. E.g. Boston bombings, home made bombs.

Certainty in a world of Choice: Fundamentalism can provide a moral anchor for people who feel they are floundering. In a world of unlimited choice, it can be overwhelming and having instructions can be helpful to some people. Modernity creates a 'moral ambiguity'.

Marx: Fundamentalism creates increased alienation. But it is opium which dulls the pain of life. People feel oppressed so turn to fundamentalism. Could lead to revolution.

Durkheim: Social solidarity is a positive of fundamentalism. People worship society/ a way of life. Sacred. Strong moral anchor - prevents anomie.

Fundamentalism and women:

USA: Abortion Clinics. Prevent women's rights/ choice to have a baby.

India: Rise of Hindu fundamentalism, less rights for women in the home.

Muslim Groups: Women confined to roles out of respect to religion.

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Science and Religion

History: The Enlightenment: 18th Century, European centres of learning. Emergence of science and questioning of morals and customs, especially religion. Bilton (2002) Humans crossed 'The Great Divide' and moved from the ignorance and guess work of faith to certainty and truth of science.'

What is Science: Knowledge based on empirical evidence. Can be viewed as objectivity free. Rational and logical thinking. Ignorance of personal feeling.

Popper (1959) - Falsification: Never 100% accurate about anything. Aim to falsify evidence for most accuracy. Black swan.

Rationalism: Before science, there were too many conflicting beliefs or them all to be true or hold any value.

Religion has claim on the truth - as do some sects and churches.

Relativism: Moral Guidance e.g. Smoking is bad for you - just provided by facts. Similar to religion in this sense.

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Science and Religion - 2

Kuhn (1962): Social Construction of society. Challenged traditional view of society. Framework for work. Paradigm - closed system and rules of science. Creates elitism, certain things over looked - much like it's criticism of religion.

Secularisation: The empirical power of science has not replaced religion. Cannot supply some of the spiritual aspects (Malinowski). Does not provide enough morals.

USA is the most scientifically advanced democracy - yet still has fundamentalist religion. Many scientists religious.

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This was amazing help! Thanks so much :)

Asha Ibrahim



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