Beliefs In Society


Functionalist and Inclusivist Definition

  • broad definition. covers a wide range of beliefs to which people give a sacred or religious quality
  • does not necessarily include beliefs in a supernatural being (i.e God)
  • defines religion in terms of the functions it performs for society


  • distinguished between the sacred (arousing feelings of awe and respect) and profane (common, mundane things)
  • believed nationalism is a type of religion as it has similar functions to conventional religion

As well as conventional religious beliefs this definition includes beliefs that many would not regard as religious. These include interests in football, music, and patriotism as they take on an almost sacred quality for some people and act as conventional religions. 

1 of 48

Substantive and Exclusivist Definition

  • focuses on what religion actually is and is concerned with the content of religion
  • involves belief in the supernatural
  • fits what most would regard as religion
  • includes non conventional beliefs such as Wicca and Paganism



  • defines religion as a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group struggles with the problems of human life


  • religion is ther beliefs, actions and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action
2 of 48

Functionalist Perspective


  • all societies differentiate between the scared and profane
  • study of aborigines - totemism. in worshipping their totem, people were in fact worshipping society. totem is sacred because of the qualities and meanings attached to it
  • religion reinforces shared values and moral beliefs and integrates society
  • helps to strengthen collective conscience, builds social solidarity and creates a sense of unity and belonging in society
  • without religion society would face anomie 


  • religion is crucial in helping people to deal with situations of emotional stress that threatens social solidarity
  • provides explanations and comfort for events such as death, illness, divorce etc. 
  • provides security in times of uncertainty
3 of 48

Functionalist Perspective

Parsons: Underpins core values and social norms of society

  • religion provides guidelines for human action and standards of conduct
  • moral beliefs/values become so ingrained through socialisation that it has a controlling influence over individuals
  • provides meanings, explanations and answers to questions enabling people to make sense of uncontrollable, unpredictable life crises
  • provides a mechanism of adjustment (a means of emotional adjustment in the face of various life crisises and a means of returning to normality)

Robert Bellah:  Civil religion

  • supernatural dimensions of religion will eventually disappear and other 'civil religions' would replace it
  • sacred qualities are attached to aspects of society itself
  • study of America found that what unified American society is a civil religion (faith in Americanism or the American Dream)
4 of 48

Functionalist Perspective


  • only see religion as a conservative force - downplays the role it has in social change
  • secularisation - how can religion fulfil its functions when religion is diminishing and religious thinking, practice and institutions have lost their authority, appeal and importance?
  • How can religion be integrating members of society, building value consensus and promoting social solidarity in a multi-cultural/multi-faith society?
  • Religion can be a disruptive and socially divisive influence. different religious beliefs and values can tear people and communities apart. historically, religion has played a greater role dividng people than uniting them 


  • Durkheim's theory cannot be applied to contemprory society 
  • increasing diversity has fragmented the collective conscience 
  • there is no longer a single shared value system for religion to reinforce
5 of 48

Marxist Perspective

Karl Marx:   Opium of the people

  • religion acts a hallucinatory, pain relieving drug creating false illusions among the oppressed 
  • distorts reality, keeping the proletariats in a state of false class consciousness, unaware of the nature and extent of their exploitation
  • promises eternal life and bliss in heaven, promises compensation for suffering, offers the hope of supernatural intervention to end suffering and provides an explanation and justification for inequality
  • religion is a form of alienation - people give up the right to make their own decisions as God has ordained this life for them
  • justifies and legitimates the existing social order and inequalities

The sole purpose of religion is to legitimate ruling class power and keep the proletariats in a state of false class conscioussness and accpeting of the fate that God has ordained for them. This then stops them from speaking out and rebelling against the bourgeoisie. 

Refer to: Hindu Caste System, The New Christian Right, Slavery

6 of 48

Marxist Perspective

Althusser:  Religion as an ideological state apparatus

  • religion is an institution spreading the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie 


  • religion causes hegemony (acceptance by people that their positions are unchangeable and inevitable)


  • religion was used to support dominant groups in the US


  • Church of England recruits from the upper class
  • 80% of bishops educated at OxBridge
  • Church lost contact with ordinary people
7 of 48

Marxist Perspective


  • secularisation - religion seems to have declined in most Western societies, suggesting it no longer is needed to maintain ruling class power
  • functionalists - religion benefits everyone, not just the ruling class. marxism ignores the positive benefits of religion (stability/shared values etc)
  • religion can act as a form of resistance to the powerful and as an agent of social change. (Islamic Fundamentalism - resisting cultural imperalism and and fighting Americanization)
  • feminists - religion acts to preserve male patriarchal power not ruling class power. marxists ignore gender inequality


  • religion does not act as a conservative force in the interests of the ruling class
  • starts of amongst the opressed as a way of coping
  • eventually religion can become a force for social change
  • can help to unite an oppressed group, give them a common set of beliefs and providing the basis for future actions
8 of 48

Neo-Marxist Perspective

Disagree with Marx that religion is under the control of the ruling class. Ruling class domination is more effective if it is not involved in religion.


  • religion can develop to support and guide challenges to the ruling class as the Church is not directly under the control of the ruling class
  • religion can; challenge the dominant ruling class ideology and support working class conscioussness and liberation 

Otto Maduro:

  • religion has some independance from ruling class control. this is known as relative autonomy
  • denies that religion is always a conservative force and it can sometimes be revolutionary
  • uses example of liberation theology which argues that power and wealth should be redistributed from the rich to the poor
9 of 48

Feminist Perspective


  • Quran: women are legally inferior to men. lack the same rights as their husband. must submit to husband
  • sexual pleasure for women is disapproved of or condemned in many religions
  • sexuality is reserved for reproduction or male pleasure
  • opposition to contraception and abortion reinforces women's primary role as mother
  • women are presented as sexual predators, with endless desires, seduce men and divert them from their proper religious duties

De Beauvoir:

  • most scriptures suggest that 'man is master by divine right'
  • religion is an instrument of male domination
  • women are given a false belief that their suffering will be rewarded in Heaven and decieves women into thinking that they are equal to men
  • in reality women are disadvantaged as the 'second sex' 
10 of 48

Feminist Perspective


  • the move to the male God is the origin of gender inequality in the modern world
  • in many religions men dominate the powerful positions of the public sphere
  • women's second class status is often related to female biology and sexuality
  • women's menstrual cycle is nearly always regarded as polluting

Walby and De Beauvoir:

  • doctrines of many of the world's religions contain an ideology of the family
  • emphasis is put on women's traditional roles as wives and mothers in the family

Barret and Pryce:

  • Rastafarianism involves the assumption that the woman will take on the traditional roles of housewives and mothers which will protect women from racial and sexual harrasment
  • this gives men power by discouraging women's active engagement and participation in society
11 of 48

Feminist Perspective



  • gender equality can be found among contemprory groups such as spiritual movements, the Baha'is

Leila Ahmed and Helen Watson:

  • veiling of women interpreted as a form of resisting patriarchy - provides a independent female identity and freedom from male harrasment
  • seen as a sign of Muslim pride in resistance to a patriarchal Western culture which treats women as sex objects


  • religion is not to be blamed for exploitation - men are
  • Islamic men use their power to justify barbaric practices such as female circumcision
  • men misinterpret and manipulate religious teachings for their own benefit
12 of 48

Interpretivist Perspective

Interpretivists look at the way religion is used by believers to create meanings and interpretations of the world and to understand the meanings that sacred symbols have for individuals.


  • religion provides a universe of meaning (gives individuals a sense of meaning and explanation in a chaotic world)
  • provides a theodicy (religious framework that helps to make sense of seemingly inexplicible questions such as meaning of life and death, poverty, injustice etc.)
  • religion is a scared canopy - a shield that protects people from uncertainties, meaninglessness and pointlessness by helping them to interpret and make sense of the world and their position
13 of 48

Interpretivist Perspective


  • in a media saturated, globalised, postmodern society there is increasing diversity and fragmentationof beliefs and lifestyles. 
  • religion is losing its validity


  • there is growing secularisation and disenchantment with the world
  • science has displaced religion and helps to explain concepts logically 


  • religion is losing its role as the provider of meaning
  • reasoning, logic and science have largely replaced faith, superstition and mystery
  • sacred canopy of religion is now lost
  • religion no longer provides a source of meanings, moralities or the sacred shield against lifes insecurities and uncertainties
14 of 48

Religion as a Compensator

Stark and Bainbridge:

  • examine the meanings and functions of religion for individuals in society
  • religion meets the needs of individuals when their sense of social order is disrupted
  • belief in religion provides a means for individuals to make sense of and come to terms with such events
  • religion acts as a general compensator - if a person acts in a certain way, they will eventually be rewarded. provides hope for life after death

Religion in some form or another will never disappear as it provides answers to universal questions and offers general compensators meeting universal human needs

15 of 48

Religion as a Conservative Force



  • religion reinforces the collective conscious, acts as a social cement producing solidarity, integration and a shared system of values
  • collective worship reasserts the importance of society over the individual


  • legitimises core values of society through association with God
  • reinforces value consensus


  • in times of crisis or unpredictability, religion provides explanations
  • ensures social stability and prevents the breakdown of society
16 of 48

Religion as a Conservative Force


  • religion inhibits social change as it is an instituion of the ruling class to legitimise, justify and maintain their position of power and control
  • it is the opium of the people and dulls the pain of oppression
  • mechanism of social control, regulating the behaviour of the proletariat and preventing them from seeing the true nature of their exploitation
  • proletariats diverted from revolutionary action and passively accept the fate that God has destined for them

Refer to: Hindu Caste System

17 of 48

Religion as a Conservative Force


  • religion oppresses women and keeps them grounded 
  • scriptures are evidently patriarchal - focusing on the behaviour of women, concepts of modesty and their nuturing, passive, submissive roles
  • scriptures note that women are either passive, nurturing mothers or whores, temptresses or adultresses

De Beauvoir:

  • religion oppresses women who believe they will be rewarded in Heaven if they are submissive and passive 

Refer to: Stained Glass Ceiling theory, Virgin Mary, Eve, Prostitute Mary (Bible)

18 of 48

Religion As A Force For Social Change

Max Weber:

  • religion can help shape economic systems and bring radical change to society
  • studied a religious cult known as Calvinism and found that their religious beliefs had an important influence on the development of an industrial capital economy and capitalist class
  • work is God given - individuals work hard to show devotion and gratitude
  • leisure seen as sinful - wealth is reinvested into businesses
  • predestination - people work hard to work out whether they are favoured or damned
  • concluded that Calvinism provided the rationality and religious ideology and ethics which encouraged the development of Capitalism in Europe

G.K Nelson  states that there are many instances where religion has undermined stability and promoted social change such as;

Martin Luther King/ Malcolm X:

  • religion played a major factor in promoting their civil rights movements and quests for equality
19 of 48

Religion As A Force For Social Change


  • at certain times and places religion can directly support the liberation of the subject class and help them become aware of their true situation


  • saw glimmers of a demand for change in some religious movements which looked forward to change in the present rather than in the afterlife

Ernst Bloch:

  • religion can inspire protest and rebellion


  • illustrates Gramsci's point
  • liberation theology - blend of Catholicism and Marxism in South America brought about revolutionary change
20 of 48

Religion As Both

Religion has the potential to be both a conservative force and a force for social change

McGuire and Robinson:

there are four interrelated factors which influence whether religion acts as a conservative force or a force for social change

  • Belief System: strong morals/codes likely to criticise liberation or change
  • Internal Organisation: strong, centralised leadership means more influence and power to stop change
  • Social Location: religious leaders close to individuals/politics/ economics in society - more likely to influence social change
  • Cultural Context: central part of culture and everyday life - more likely to be used as a means of justifying behaviour or change
21 of 48

Religion As Both


  • form of social change
  • change to a more conservative way of life
  • Islamic Revolution under the Ayotullah Khomeini replaced an increasingly Westernised value system with a more traditional one

The debate over whether religion is a conservative force or a force for social change is a pointless oversimplification

22 of 48

Religion Not Always Causing Conflict

It can be argued that conflicts apparently based on religion are really about other issues

Karen Armstrong:

  • conflict between Islam and the West is mainly due to American foreign policy
  • USA has frequently intervened in Muslim countries and supported regimes that bring no prosperity to ordinary Muslims

Steve Bruce:

  • religious factors are often intermingled with non religious factors in causing conflict
  • Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a result of nationality and ethnic, intermingled with religious, differences
23 of 48


Almond et al:

  • religious beliefs have been watered down or under threat
  • fundamentalist religions are opposed to the decline of their beliefs and wish to return to the original, basic or 'fundamental' beliefs of their religion

Secularisation and modernisation have helped to produce fundamentalism, as well as;

  • low levels of education and high levels of inequality
  • displacement of people by war, chance events (poor harvest), economic problems
  • Western imperalism


  • highlights that fundamentalism is a relatively new concept
  • society has seen a growth in fundamentalism
  • they are reacting against the 'globalised post modern' direction that the world is taking
  • growing liberalism and freedom have undermined or threatened their religious beliefs
24 of 48


Karen Armstrong:   Islam and the West

  • nothing in the Islamic religion leads to fundamentalist beliefs
  • Islamic leaders were in favour of Westernisation and modernisation
  • attempts to impose modernisation rapidly, without concern for the welfare of the poor, has built up resentment, hostility and led to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism


  • fundamentalism is a response to post modernity
  • diversity, choice and freedom are positive factors but they heighten uncertainity and risk
  • fundamentalism aims to restore certainty and eliminate risk


there are 2 responses to post modernism

  • Project identities: accepting of and embracing change and progression
  • Resistant Identities: defensive reaction, feelings of hostility and fundmaentalism develops
25 of 48



  • fundamentalism is caused by secularisation - modernisation, sicence and rationality have undermined traditional religious faith and belief
  • tends to be found in monotheistic religions as they are strict, rigid and have overriding truth
  • other religions have more scope, more accepting of change as they are open to interpretations and views

There are 2 different types of fundamentalism:

  • Western: develops as a result of changes occuring within their societies 
  • Third World: develops as a response to 'outsider' countries forcing change onto these societies

Globalisation has led to national identities meaning less with countries being group identified (e.g. European Community/Middle East). As such socieities around the world are experiencing 'a crisis of identity. In response they use their religions to restore their individual identities, significance, heritage etc. Religion thus acts as a 'Cultural Defense'.

26 of 48



  • religion is often at the core of many global conflicts and causes conflict between civilisations
  • this is happening more than ever because religion is becoming an important source of national identity
  • globalisation means that civilisations are more likely to be in contact with each other
  • religion creates an 'Us vs. Them' mentality
  • religious differences are harder to resolve as they are closed systems which are rooted in history
  • the West is under threat (especially from Islam) and as such the West needs to reassert their Christian identity
27 of 48




  • Huntington's work is based on 'Orientalism'
  • Eastern civilsations are stereotyped as untrustworthy, fanatical, barbarian and inferior


  • Huntington generalises too much 
  • only a small minority of Muslim's are interested in 'Holy War' and 'Fanaticalism'


  • fanaticalism has only been caused due to the West imposing their values and politics on the Middle East
  • the West should bear most of the blame and Islam should not be scapegoated
28 of 48



Inglehart and Norris

  • religion and politics does not cause a 'clash of civilisations'
  • attitudes to sexuality and gender liberalism causes the real 'Clash'


  • hybrid communities where cosmopolitanism and fundamentalism are not polar opposites are ignored
  • Extremism or fundamentalism is not just a reaction to globalisation but to more localised problems also
29 of 48

Gender and Religion


  • women are more likely to join or involve themselves in NRMs and NAMs
  • they are particularly attracted to the healing and channelling aspects of the New Age
  • the modern world has a sharp divide between the public sphere and private sphere - religion is retreating to the private sphere, where women are closely connected
  • women's socialisation as caring/passive explains their greater religiosity

religious appeal differs according to social class

  • working class women tend to continue supporting traditional religions and stay passive
  • middle class women have more control over their lives and gravitate towards the New Age

Halman and Draulans:

  • women's traditional gender role gives them a greater responsibility and focus on the family and the socialisation process of their children
  • as a result they may still be connected to religion
30 of 48

Gender and Religion

Miller and Hoffman:

  • traditional religions expect their followers to be passive and obedient - women are taught to be these things
  • being the primary carers, taking the children to Church is part of their role
  • women who are not in paid employment have more time and need for Church and religion in order to provide a sense of identity
  • women have a higher life expectancy - isolation, death of friends and spouses may be a reason to turn to religion as a source of comfort and support


  • women may lack personal fulfilment or status as a result of being confined to the home
  • they may also find themselves in unsatisfying, lower middle class jobs
  • women lack power and confidence and are more likely to experience marginalisation, family/persoanl problems, poverty etc
  • as a result women may seek solace in religious groups which provide compensation and status
31 of 48

Gender and Religion

Linda Woodhead:

  • secularisation has reduced the involvement of men in traditional religion who have become involved in the rationalised modern world
  • Church has become increasingly feminised - more emphasis on love, care, relationships
  • women still more religious because of changes in the Church and the appeal of New Age


  • women associate God with love, comfort, forgiveness - linked to traditional femininity/family role
  • women lean more to people orientation than power - explains their greater involvement in religion
  • biological factors give women a closer association with birth and death - central issues for religion
  • women more aware of vulnerability and value for human life, more attuned to the spiritual dimensions of human existence
32 of 48

Gender and Religion



the number of women attending Church has declined since the 80's due to:

  • fertility levels
  • feminist values
  • paid employment
  • family diversity which is stigmatised in many religions
  • sexuality

Sue Sharpe and Becky Francis:

  • priorities of girls is now jobs, careers and supporting themselves as opposed to marriage, love, husbands and children
  • girls are more ambitious aiming for higher occupations like doctors, solicitors etc.
33 of 48

Ethnicity and Religion

Modood et al:

  • 11% white members saw religion as very important in comparison to 71% Carribbean, 43% Hindus and 74% Muslims
  • religion is important in the lives of minority ethnic communities - source of socialisation, integration, maintaining traditional morality, cope and deal with hostility, discrimination and racism


  • religion helps to maintain tradition, group cohesion, community solidarity 
  • places of worship act as community centres, provide a focus for social life, promote cultural values and traditions

Stark and Bainbridge:

  • acts as a general compensator
  • meets the needs of people when there is a disruption in social order
34 of 48

Ethnicity and Religion

Karl Marx:

  • religion is the opium of people
  • provides comforting diversion from attacking the causes of poverty/racism


  • ethnic minorities may feel marginalised, inferior or displaced in society
  • they may develop status frustration as a result
  • religion helps them to overcome this, integrate them with their own, provide a sense of belonging and status


  • religion provides a theodicy of disprivilege
  • this helps minorities come to terms with their situation
35 of 48

Ethnicity and Religion


  • many younger asians have formed a new hybrid identity which he calls 'Brasian'
  • they establish their identity by adopting selective elements of the religion of their parents with strong dimensions of personal choice


  • interviewed Muslim women from Bradford and Coventry
  • found that whilst they had attachment to their religious and cultural values, and saw religion as important in shaping their identities, they challenged some of the restrictions that traditional Asian/Muslim culture imposed on them
  • want more choice and independance in life


  • explored issues of religion and identity among young British born Muslims
  • Muslim identity was more appealing
  • provides stability, security and certainty
36 of 48

Ethnicity and Religion

Steve Bruce:

  • ethnic minorities are more religious
  • it is more an expression of community solidarity than religious commitment
  • over time the generally secular nature of British society will erode the importance of religion

ethnic minority religious observance stems from:

  • Cultural Defense : religion protects and maintains identity in a hostile environment
  • Cultural Transition : religion is used to cope with upheaval of migration

Gilles Kepel:

  • there has been a general religious revival for both minority and majority religions
  • Muslims have retained and strengthened their faith in response to an upsurge of Islamic beliefs throughout the world
37 of 48

Ethnicity and Religion

George Chryssides:

identified 3 possible paths for immigrants and their descendants in terms of their religion:

  • Apostacy : beliefs are abandoned in a hostile environment
  • Accomodation : religious beliefs are adapted and take into account the changed situation
  • Renewed Vigour : religion reasserted more strongly than ever - response to percieved hostility

Chryssides believes the general pattern in the UK is accomodation and renewed vigour

John Bird:

  • ethnic groups originate in societies with high levels of religiosity
  • religion is an important basis for community, solidarity, identity, introduce them to marriage partners
  • religion maintains cultural identity in terms of traditions, food, language, art etc.
  • socialisation and tighter bonds within community leads to strong pressure to maintain religious commitments
  • religion may be a way of coping with a sense of oppression or marginality
38 of 48

Age and Religion



  • older people become detached or isolated from society (retirement, limited mobility)
  • increasing social isolation (friends, spouses die)
  • religious organisations provide social support and a network of people to relate to
  • look to religion for comfort, coping, meaning and support


George Carey:

  • Archbishop of Canterbury, CofE is like 'an elderly lady, who mutters away to herself in a corner, ignored most of the time
  • religious organisations are boring, repetitive, old-fashioned, full of old people
  • views on abortion, homosexuality, pre-marital sex are outdated and alien to young people
39 of 48

Age and Religion


  • globalisation has led to the increase of mass media and thus the awareness of new aspects
  • young people may be turning away from conventional ideas of religion
  • finding expression through new religious or spiritual movements


  • there is now an 'expanded spiritual marketplace'
  • involves growing exposure and accessability to diveristy of religious and spiritual concepts

Young people may not have lost all religiosity but found new forms which are associated with the more secular and non-religious world

40 of 48

Age and Religion


  • metanarratives like religion have lost their authority and power to influence people's thoughts, interpretations and explanations about the world
  • science has displaced religion - offering rational, logical and scientific explanations
  • scientifically educated younger generation becoming less religious as they do not believe the old, traditional religious explanations

Voas and Crockett:

  • secularisation - each generation is becoming less religious
  • each generation less inclined to teach and socialise their children into religious belief


  • 'believing without belonging'
  • religion, faith and beliefs are a private matter - no need to make a public display of them
  • negative stereotypes of Muslims, religion seen as 'uncool', social pressures, fitting in
41 of 48


Bryan Wilson:

  • 'the process whereby religious thinking, practice and institutions lose social significance'

Joe Casanova:

distinguishes between two general approaches to defining secularisation

  • declining importance of religion in the public sphere - often involves religious life moving to the private sphere and becoming a private matter
  • the term secularisation used to refer to the decline religious beliefs and practices amongst individuals
42 of 48


Glock and Stark:

  • there are multiple aspects of secularisation
  • there is no general agreement about what characterises a truly religious society

Woodhead and Heelas:

there are 2 ways to view secularisation;

  • Disappearance Thesis: modernity is bringing about the death of religion. significance, authority and appeal of religion on society and individuals is declining and this will continue until religion disappears
  • Differentiation Thesis: religion is declining in social influence. it no longer plays an important part in society, no longer influences the family, education, legal and political systems. it has become differentiated from wider society. however it still plays a crucial role for individual people

Hadaway et al:   Religious surveys and attendance levels

  • people give socially desirable answers or do not take them seriously
43 of 48



  • industrialization led people to science and rationality rather than religion and supernatural
  • logic and the findings of science are able to provide answers that religion leaves as a mystery
  • this has created a 'Desacrilisation of Consciousness'
  • individuals have lost the capacity to experience a sense of mystery and sacredness in life
  • individuals have become 'disenchanted' with the world


  • supported Weber's view - religious beliefs have become marginalised and people only turn to them as a last resort
  • religious pluralism creates a situation where religion is no longer a central feature of society - more a matter of personal choice
  • a strong religion that dominates people's lives declines and is replaced by a weak religion which involves tolerance of other beliefs and has limited influence
44 of 48


Lyotard and Bauman:

  • metanarratives like religion have lost their influence
  • people are likely to control their own identities
  • people have more choice and enter the 'spiritual supermarket'
  • religion has lost its power and influence, has become watered down and fragmented to the extent that it has become meaningless


Woodhead and Heelas:

  • the world is going through a 'spiritual revolution' - individuals are becoming more involved in New Age 'holistic milieu' 
  • individuals are not becoming less religious but are rediscovering religion in personalised forms - picking, mixing and tailoring to suit their needs/lifestyles
  • this is known as 'resacrilisation'
45 of 48



  • although institutional religion is in decline, other forms of religion continue to exist
  • people are undergoing a process called individuation - finding themselves, searching for a meaning or undergoing a 'spiritual journey'


  • religion is not in decline
  • church attendance may have been higher in the past as a result of higher social pressure to maintain respect
  • people may choose to privatise their faith and 'believe without belonging' 
  • people may choose to practice their religion in the comfort and privacy of their home
  • this 'invisible religion' is not secularisation - just a new form of practice

Greeley and Nelson:

  • religious pluralism can be indicative of a religious revival
46 of 48



  • rapid social change associated with industrialisation and urbanisation led to anomie
  • modernisation led to religion becoming a privatised affair
  • this trend will change and religion will reassert itself
  • all societies require sacred symbols and communal function and rituals if they are to survive
  • there will be a religious revival


  • accepted the Church had lost many of its former functions - it has less responsibility for education and welfare
  • however, the Church remained very important
  • in the USA, Christian values have been generalised - absorbed into the culture of the society and underpin the American way of life, the value consensus and the legal system
47 of 48


Stark and Bainbridge:

  • put forward the secularization cycle
  • society is becoming rather secular, however secularisation is not an end to religion but part of a cycle
  • religion can decline but it can never disappear - it will always be needed for moral guidance and for providing answers to questions


  • religion is still important in public life
  • fundamentalism demonstrates the continued political importance of religion both in the USA and in the Muslim world
  • religion was linked to conflicts such as those between the Jews and Muslim Palestinians in the Middle East
48 of 48


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Religion and beliefs resources »