Religious Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism and Cosmopolitanism

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  • Created on: 01-06-11 09:34

Fundamentalism and Cosmopolitanism

Giddens says fundamentalists are traditionalists who seek to return to the basics of fundamentals of their faith.

They believe in the literal truth of scriptures and provides answers to ALL life's important questions.

Fundamentalists tend to avoid contact with others who think differently. They rely upon guardians of tradition such as clergy to interpret the sacred text and lay down rules.

Giddens notes that the term fundamentalism is new and therefore a product of and reaction to globalisation. In today's late-modern society, individuals are constantly faced with choice, uncertainty and risk.

Giddens contrasts fundamentalism with cosmopolitanism - a way of thinking that embraces modernity and is in keeping with today's globalising world.

Cosmopolitanism is tolerant of the views of others and open to new ideas, constant reflexive thinking (modifying beliefs in the light of new information)

Cosmopolitan religion emphasises the pursuit of personal meaning than submission to authority. Giddens see fundamentalism as the enemy of cosmopolitan thought and modernity.

However, fundamentalists reject modernity, they use modern methods to express beliefs (internet, t.v)

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Fundamentalism: Responses to Post-modernity

Bauman sees fundamentalism as a response to living in post-modernity.

Postmodern society brings freedom, choice, uncertainty and heightened awareness of risk, therefore fundamentalism has arised due to it claiming to be ABSOLUTE truth and certainty.

Castells distinguishes between 2 responses to post-modernity:

-RESISTANT IDENTITY: A defensive reaction of those who feel threatened and retreat into fundamentalist communities.

- PROJECT IDENTITY: the response of those who are forward-looking and engage with social movement

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Bruce: Two Fundamentalisms

Bruce says: while all fundamentalists share the same characteristics such as belief in the literal truth of the sacred texts, different fundamentalists may have different origins. In particular some are triggered by changes taking place within their own society, while others are a response to changes being thrust upon a society from the outside.

In the West: Fundamentalism is most often a reaction to change taking place within a society, especially towards diversity and choice in postmodern world. For example, the Bible Belt and there strict rules about abortion, gay rights etc. Therefore trying to shape laws and morals of wider society.

In the Third World: Fundamentalism is usually a reaction to changes being thrust upon society from outside for example ISLAMIC REVOLUTION in Iran. It is triggered by modernisation and globalisation and therefore fundamentalists involves resistance to the state's attempt to sideline and confine it to the private sphere.

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Cultural Defence

Bruce sees one function of religion in today's world as that of cultural defence. This is where religion serves to unite a community against an external threat. In some situations, religion has significance for its followers because it sumbolises the group collective identity.

Poland is an example of cultural defence. It was under communist rule during 1945-1989. During this, the Catholic Church was suppressed, but it continued to embody Polish national identity.

Iran is also an example. Western capatalist powers and oil companies had influence including the involvement in the illegal overthrow of a democratic government. During 1960's, they embarked on a policy of modernisation and westernisation, this included banning the veil.

Change was imposed rapidly often causing suffering. Islam therefore resisted to the Shah's regime which was led by clergys.

The revolution of 1979 in which a religious leader held state power.

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