beliefs in society

some basic knowledge

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functionalism: religion acts as a reinforcement to society's norms and values. positive function, brings about social solidarity and a feeling of belong to something bigger, secondary socialistaion, creates harmony through shared beliefs.

durkheim: worshipping God is really worshipping society, sacred things bring collective conscience, reinforces norms and values.

malinowski: main function is in times of crisis/emotional stress. religious rituals help people have control, doesn't reflect society as a whole, but brings social solidarity at hard times.

parsons: gives meaning to life, laws are based on 10 commandments so religion still impacts society, religion explains unforseen events and uncertaintys, helps provide consensus which is vitual for social order and stability.

interactionists: religion can create social change

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Marxist: religion acts as a control, keeps people in their place, conflicts within beliefs, religion is the opium of the people, religion satisfies the need for the dominant class to feel that their privilege is legitimated.

feminists: religion is an instrument of patriarchy

Gidden: religion is based on men - male God, males in bible, males at top of hierarchy.

Jean holm: women are more religious as they have more time.

post-modernists: no longer a grand narrative which explains events, secularisation hasn't taken place, religion is more like a spiritual supermarket - choose the bits you want.

Heelas: development of new age beliefs called cultic milieu

Neo-Marxists: form of liberation theology

maduro: relative autonomy, con be revolutionary

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reasons for secularisation:

  • decrease in church attendance
  • people cohabitate more
  • church membership has decreased
  • more old then young with the church
  • not as many baptisms
  • communion isn't as important
  • people get divorced
  • less people wanting to become priests
  • less funerals
  • less church marriages
  • religious symbols not as important
  • Sabbath isn't as important - people work
  • children aren't taught religion at home
  • less churches
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secularisation terms:

  • disengagement
  • differentiation
  • societalisation
  • pluralism
  • desacrilisation
  • disenchantment
  • rationalisation
  • globalisation
  • post-modernity

religious fundamentalists

  • anti-modernists - becoming diluted in modern world
  • conservative and traditional beliefs
  • strict obedience to traditional religious texts
  • religious militancy
  • respond to perceived threats to their religion
  • common eternal enemy
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reasons secularisation hasn't happened:

  • might never have been a golden age
  • just because people use to go to church didn't make them religious
  • our holidays are mainly for religious purposes - Christmas, Easter
  • people are more religious this day and age as its a choice
  • seen as cool to be spiritual; more celebrities are religious
  • people may carry out religion privately (grace Davies)
  • people may be religious that aren't represented in church statistics
  • even is secularisation has happened, ethnic religions are increasing
  • religion is still important in politics - prayer meetings, talks with religious elements
  • religion is growing globally
  • children are still taught religion in schools
  • people are able to shop for religion now - so many to choose from
  • dechrisianisation rather then secularisation taking place.
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new religious movements: they are normally small and more integrated then other religions often have a single charismatic leader are either:

  • world rejecting
  • world accommodating
  • world affirming

reasons for growth:

  • marginality
  • relative deprivation
  • social change
  • improved education
  • radical political movement
  • rejection of conventional lifestyles, materialism
  • search for materialism

reasons against growth:

  • small in number
  • short lived
  • second generation of members aren't as committed
  • less radical members over time
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differences in Gender and Religion

  • women are more unprivileged so turn to religion
  • women are oppressed and taught will be rewarded in after life
  • women socialise in churches - play groups for tots
  • women are more spiritual as closer to nature from child birth
  • more acceptable for women to be spiritual
  • women live longer so go to church for social reasons

differences in Age and Religion

  • young people more involved with society then religion - socialisation
  • parents don't teach/bring up children in religion
  • look for rational explanations rather then religion
  • less stigma for not going to church
  • influenced by globalisation - media and world
  • young people disengaged as doesn't fit with today's society
  • religion has lost its function in society, education teaches norms and values
  • post-modernism: traditional views don't fit with lifestyles - single parents, divorce, teenage pregnancy
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differences in Ethnicity and Religion

  • don't allow for post-modernist views, keep separated
  • they have strong norms and values
  • ethnic religion is important through families and taught at young ages
  • brings social solidarity and helps them cope with social changes
  • ethnic religious groups are rivals to modernity in western society
  • ethnic groups are deprived so religion gives them hope
  • young may reject norms and values
  • just because they act religious doesn't mean they are

differences in Social Class and Religion

  • religion justifies inequalities
  • want immediate gratification not wanting to wait til after life
  •  middle class more likely to believe as they feel they are the chosen ones
  • religious ceremonies aimed at middle class
  • middle class have everything but still feel spiritually deprived so search for religion 
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