Beliefs in Society

  • Created by: Paige
  • Created on: 27-05-14 13:51

Structural Theories


Durkheim (

·         Collective conscience         

·         Totemism

·         Sacred

·         Profane

·         'one single moral community called a Church' to unite members

Parsons (

·         'Life crises'

·         Anomie


·         Marxism- religion can be dysfunctional- Northern Ireland (Catholics v Protestants)

·         Religion no longer influential to reinforce collective conscience- Western societies- secular

·         How can religion integrate people in modern multi-faith societies?

Bellah (neo-functionalist) (

·         Civil religion- US Americanism

·         Religious images/phrases promote and reinforce national identity

·         Promotes social solidarity

·         Evidence- e.g. coins inscribed 'God bless America'

·         American flag- sacred

·         Congress outlawed its 'desecration'- only sacred things can be desecrated

Marxism (


·         Including Engels- tool of social control- keep masses in their place

·         'Social opium' and 'Spiritual gin' (Lenin)

·         Deal with pain and suffering- belief in Heaven, blame God for lowly position and responsibility for 'ordering their estate'


·         'the people must be kept in order by moral means, and the first and foremost of all moral means of action upon the masses is and remains- religion' (quoted by Turner 1991: 75)


·         Ideological apparatus

·         False consciousness



·         Didn't believe economic forces alone could maintain ruling classes' dominance

·         Have to persuade existing system is good and fair

·         Hegemony

·         Religious belief and ideas used for control aren't inevitable

·         If Church joined working-class forces- free selves from oppression by challenging status quo


·         Maxism ignores secularisation

·         How can ruling class impose its ideology on masses if majority doesn't attend church?

·         Church doesn't always support ruling class- 1980s Catholic church in Poland- brought about downfall of communist regime

·         No evidence to support false consciousness

·         Phenomenologists- people will always want comfort religion provides

·         Functionalists- social integration function- always essential



    • Women subordinate
    • Disagree cause of it


    • Differences between men and women- socialised differently, reinforced by sexist laws and rules
    • Solution: Non-gendered socialisation- ensuring sexual equality
    • Hold office in religious organisation- important step to gain total sexual equality


    • Men- directly responsible for women's oppression
    • They benefit from women's low social status
  • Daly
    • Religion infused with patriarchal ideology- specific rules women must follow
    • Catholic women- cover heads in church
    • Some muslims put greater restirctions on how women should appear in public
  • Identified extensive ways religion helps men maintain dominance over women


    • Weight to role of capitalism- reinforces inferior social status
    • Capitalism benefits from free domestic labour
    • Church reinforces traditional gender roles- serves interests of capitalist class


  • Situation has improved
  • E.g. 1992+ women can ordain as Anlican ministers- 1st in Bristol March 1994
  • Ethnocentric
  • Hijab may liberate women- frees them from being objectified
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