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  • Created by: Iveta
  • Created on: 11-03-14 10:58

Religion creating social change

McGuire claimed that some religions are more able to create social change than others and this is because of the CHARISTMATIC LEADER. Leaders such as Jesus Christ and Hitler and able to create social change because they are passionate and people believe that they could make change.
Also , religions need to have STRONG MORAL CODES which attract the most followers and therefore produce change

1) Weber: The Protestant Ethic and Capitalism
He argued that the strong religious beliefs of the Calvinists was able to bring about social change. They believed that their destiny was PRE-DETERMINED but they also led an ASCETIC LIFESTYLE dedicated to God rather than self pleasure. They enaged often in ascetic activities such as praying,etc They saved up money, spent little on them selves, were hard-working and very self-disciplined. These were the attitutes of capitalism so they helped to create major changes

AO2: Weber has been criticised because NOT all society's that were highly populated in Calvinists, such as in Switzerland and Hungary was there capitalism developed
Marxists also criticise Weber for being far too simplistic i.e. it wasnt just religious beliefs that created a capitalist society but also ECONOMIC FACTORS

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social change continued

However, Weber claimed that countries that were high in material and economic facotors such as China but capitalism was also slow to take off from there. Weber claimed that this was because the Chinese lacked in the strong religious beliefs that the Calvinists had. This shows that BOTH religious and economic factors can help to bring about social changes and a capitalist society

2) Liberation Theology: Maduro
In Central America, liberation theology took place which brought about positive social changes in society. The priests were storngly opposed to right wing military dictatorships and they wanted to distribute the power from the rich to the poor. They taught the poor education and so actively encourgaed them to see that they were indeed unequal in society- which made them want to change this.
This is similar to what Gramsci calls 'counter-hegemony' where ruling class hegemony was challenged, the poor were presented with a more FAIR and JUST way of organising society which made them want to FIGHT FOR EQUILITY
This shows that positive social changes took place i.e. reducing social class inequalties

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social change continued

3) The American Civil Rights: Martin Luther King

Bruce was also interested to see the relationship between social change and religion. He used the example of The American Civil Rights Movement.
He claimed that Martin Luther King was able to bring about positive social changes by reducing racial inequalities
His passionate yet non-violent protests made many people agree with what he said and so they also wanted to bring change. Martin luther king slammed all those that supported racial inequaltities and he argued that we are all equal.
The priests also supported his views and offered black people a safe and non violent place where they could unite, sing 'love thy neignbour', preach, etc.
The fact that a large number of people were sided with Martin Luther King and agreed with what he has to say, this shows how positive social changes have took place

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Criticisms of social change

However, other sociologists disagree and argue that religion does NOT produce change but it is a CONCERVATIVE FORCE.

  • Functionalists: no change but stability created i.e. Dukrheim's example of Australian Aboirgines
  • Marxists: no change because religion oppresses the working class and the ruling class maintain their power i.e. false class consciousness, Halfe Caste System in India
  • Feminists: gender inequalities created i.e. Holm
  • The Christian New Right- they wanted to create social change but failed because they had a lack of support i.e. only 15% of the pop supported them. They wanted to bring America back to the tradional nuclear family so encouraged abortion, homosexuality, etc to be ILLEGAL.
    Postmodernists in particular did not support them
    Lack of support= no social change made
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