Religion and social change

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Religion + social change- conservative force

Conservative force- prevents social change.

Functionalism- Religion functions to maintain social stability +prevent society from disintegrating. E.g promotes social solidarity- value consensus- reducing likelihood of society collapsing. Also helps people deal with stresses. Malinowski, durkheim + parsons.

Marxism- Religion maintains the power of the RC and oppression+exploitation of SC in a capitalist society. Creates false class consciousness. Legitimates the RC position and ensures the SC dont try to overthrow the RC. However, neo-marxists believe religion can be used as a means of creating social change (gramci+maduro)

Feminism- Helps to maintain patriarchal structure of society + reinforces the subordination +oppression of females. Suggests females are inferior to males. Acts as an ideology that legitimates patriarchal power of men + subordination of women.


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Religion and social change- radical force- Weber

Radical force- leads to social change.
Weber : the protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism- why capitalism emerged in some Norther European countries but not in the East. Concluded that examples like Calvinism,held values that encourages capitalism. pre-destination:already been chosen for salvation or eternal damnation. Can't influence this decision or find out. salvation anxiety:tried to find signs from God to let them know. work was 'Gods calling' God could be worshipped through a life of discipline, hard work + denial of pleasure. If rewarded with material success- Gods chosen them. Business profits would be reinvested into the business.
Spirit of modern capitalism: Calvinism helped bring about then development of capitalist societies. Also created the ideal worker.
Shows religion as a radical force as the teachings+beliefs of Calvinism changed society into a capitalist society.

Weren't the cause of capitalism- one of several factors.

:(capitalism preceded calvinism, rather than calvinism preceding capitalism.
:(capitalism didn't always develop in countries with strong calvinism- lack of skilled labour. Weber recognised was necessary along with religious beliefs to encourage capitalism.

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Religion+social change-radical force-neo marxism

Radical force- leads to social change.
Neo-marxism: Engels- religion generally prevented change but can bring social change e.g. religion could preach liberation from poverty/slavery. Religions generally support those in power. But, lower ranking clergy have inspired +supported popular protest against oppressive regimes. Liberation theology in Latin America.
In Latin America during the 1970s many countries were run by brutal dictatorships. Catholic priests were often the only authority figures who challenged the human rights violations and tried to help the poor+oppressed. This resistance helped lead to more democratic forms of governance- liberation theology shows religion can bring about social change.
:) challenges traditional marxists view that religion only supports RC.
:( Capitalism still remained in Latin America- oppression +exploitation of SC continued
Bruce- importance of religion in protest movements in America.
E.g civil rights movement of the 50s+60s.Black clergy could convince white christians to change their mind by emphasising the christian message of equality- hypocricy that white christians preach 'love thy neighbour' but turn a blind eye to racial segregagtion.The civil rights movement was a success as religious beliefs helped bring out social change by emphasising that it shared the same values of wider society- equality.



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Religious fundamentalism

Conservative+radical force.
Conservative force- return to traditional society. Radical force- to do this it has to change.

Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian revolution- The shah or Iran changed the trad. Muslim culture to a Western culture. Western curriculum in schools, new laws, banned wearing of the veil +replaced muslim calendar. Bars, casinos, night clubs etc. Created v. wealthy western elite- most iranians in poverty. Muslim leaders led a revolution to overthrow the shah.
Religion acting as a conservative+radical force- revolution changed society (radical) but changed it back to how it was in the past (conservative)

Christian fundamentalism in the USA: the New Christian Right- aim to return God to the centre of American life. Many 'ills' of America went against Gods way. Example of a religious movement wanting to change society to a better past- radical+conservative.
:( weren't successful

General Conclusion- Trad. theorist- religion conservative force. More evidence for radical force.




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