Religion and Social Change

Radical & Conservative.

  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 30-05-11 13:18

Religion as a Conservative Force

- Religion can be seen as a conservative force in two different sense:

1. It is often seen as conservative in the sense of being traditional. It upholds traditional beliefs in society

2. It is conservative because it functions to conserve or preserve things as they are. It stabilises society and maintains the status quo.

Religion's Conservative Beliefs:

- Most religions have traditional conservative beliefs about moral issues and many of them oppose changes that would allow individuals more freedom in personal matters. For example; Catholics forbids abortion, divorce and artificial contraception. It opposes gay marriage and condemns homosexual behaviour.

- Similarly most religions uphold 'family values' and favour men doing the domestic division of labour. For example the man should be head of the family. In marriage vows, women say 'love, honour and obey' whereas men do not say 'obey'.

-  Traditional conservative values also are seen in other religions such as Hinduism with the practice of arranged marriage.

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Religion as a Conservative Force

- Religion is also a conservative force, functioning to conserve or preserve things as they are. This view is held by functionalists, Marxists and Feminists. All of them argue that it contributes to social stability.

- Religion and Consensus: Functionalists see religion as a conservative force because it functions to maintain social stability and prevents society from disintegrating. It promotes social solidarity by creating value consensus, therefore reducing the likelihood of society collapsing through individuals doing selfish acts.

- By contrast, Marxists and Feminists see religion as an ideology that supports the existing social structure and acts as a means of social control, creating stability in the interests of the powerful.

- Religion and Capitalism: Marx sees religion as a conservative ideology that prevents social change. It justifies or disguises exploitation and inequality, leading to false consciousness in the working class's and prevents revolution thereby maintaining the stability of capitalist society.

- Religion and Patriarchy: Feminists see religion as a conservative force because it acts as an ideology that justifies patriarchal power and maintain women's subordination in the family and wider society

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