Topic 2 - Marxism, religion and change

Bloch (1959): principle of hope

Sees religion as having dual character. Argues for view of religion that recognises pos + neg influence on social change, emphasises can inspire protest + rebellion. Expression of 'principle of hope' - dreams of better life, images of utopia - can be deceiving, promises + rewards of heaven. 

May help people see what needs to be changed.

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Liberation theology

Factors -> lib theology (movement w/in Catholic Church in Latin America, 1960s, strong commitment to poor, opp to military dictatorships):
 - deepening rural poverty + growth of urban slums 
 - human rights abuses following military take-overs
 - growing commitment among Catholic priests to ideology supported poor + oppoded violations of human rights,

Set out to change society. 1970s, priests only authority figures who took side of oppressed when dictatorships used murder squads. 1980s, attitude changed - Pope John Paul II condemned lib theology on grounds resembled Marxism. Movement lost influence.

Success -> neo-Marxists question view religion always conservative force. Maduro (1982) believes religion can be revolutionary force brings change.

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Lib theology: Pentecostal challenge

Lehmann (1996) contrasts lib theology w/ Pentecostal churches:
 - lib theology - offers 'option for poor' of community consciousness, campaigns for social change
 - pentecostalism - offers 'option of poor' for people to pull themselves out of poverty through own efforts, supported by congrefation, led by pastors. 

Lib theology offers radical solution to povery, Pentecostalism's solution conservative.

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Millenarian movements

Refers to idea Christ would come into world again, rule for 1000 years before Day of Judgement + end of world. Worsley (1968), movements expect total transformation of world by supernatural means. Will be collective. Appeal largely to poor b/c promise immediate improvement.

W studied millenarian movements in Melanesia - cargo cults. Islanders felt wrongly deprived when cargo arrived for colonists. Series of cargo cults - cargo meant for natives, been diverteed by whites for themselves - unjust social order about to be overturned. Movements -> widespread unrest, threatened colonial rule.

W notes movements combined elements of traditional beliefs w/ elements of Christianity eg heaven. Describes movements as 'pre-political' - used religious ideas + images, but united native pops in mass movements spanned tribal divisions.

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Gramsci (1971): Religion + hegemony

Hegemony way r/c use ideas eg religion to maintain control. Ideolgoical dom/leadership of society. When established, r/c can rely on pop consent of rule, less need for coercion.

Never guaranteed - always poss for w/c to develop alternative vision - counter-hegemony.

G sees religion as dual character, can support/challenge r/c. Some clergy - organic intellectuals, educators etc. Can help workers see situation in + support w/c organisation eg trade unions.

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Religion + class conflict

Billings: (1990) - applies G's ideas in case study, compares class struggle in 2 communities - coalminers, textile workers. Both w/c, evangeical Protestant, miners more militant, struggled for recognition of union + better conditions. Textile workers accepted status quo.

B argued diffs in levels militancy understood in terms of hegemony + role of religion. Identifies 3 ways religions supported/challenged employers' hegemony:
 - leadership
 - organisation
 - support

B concluded religion can play 'prominent oppositional role' - study shows same religion can be called upon to defend status quo or justify struggle to change it.

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