Religion and Social Change

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Topic 2
Religion and Social change
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How can religion be seen as a conservative force?
1) It is 'traditional' 2) Its functions help to conserve or preserve and maintain the status quo
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What are religion's conservative beliefs?
1)Conservative beliefs about moral issues and change i.e. the banning of abortion and contraception in Roman Catholicism. 2) Upholding family values
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How is religion conservative in function?
It conserves and preserves things as they are. It contributes to social stability. (This is agreed by most perspectives)
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How do functionalists view religion?
A conservative force that maintains social stability and prevents disintegration
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How do they think it does this?
By promoting social solidarity, creating value consensus and helping to deal with disruption
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How do marxists and feminists view religion?
As an ideology that supports the existing unequal social structure. It promotes social control and the interests of the powerful
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What do marxists think about religion and capitalism?
It is a conservative force that prevents social change by legitimising or masking inequality, it creates false class consciousness and prevents revolution
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What do feminists think about religion and patriarchy?
It is a conservative force that legitimates patriarchal power and maintains female subordination
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Who sees religion as a force for social change?
Max Weber
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What study does he use to argue this?
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
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What perspective does he belong to?
Neo-marxism
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What did the study say?
Calivinism brought about the major social change of capitalism in Northern Europe
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Why is modern capitalism unique?
It is based on systematic, efficient, rational pursuit of profit without the aim of using profit to spend on luxuries
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What does Weber call this?
The spirit of capitalism
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What are the distinctive beliefs of Calvinism?
Predestination, divine transcendence, asceticism, vocationalism
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What is predestination?
A persons fate is decided by God at birth and nothing can change this
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What is divine transcendence?
The idea that God is so high above humanity that no one could ever claim to know his will. This may create "salvation panic"
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What is asceticism?
Abstinence, self-discipline and self-denial
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What is vocationalism?
Working constantly hard in a job in order to please God
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What are the results of these beliefs?
A systematic accumulation of wealth that is not spent on luxuries but is reinvested to generate further profit, prosperity was seen as a sign of God's favour
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What did Weber argue about this?
It was only one reason for the rise of capitalism
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What is an example of religions that held the same views but did not result in capitalism?
Hinduism: asceticism was aimed at the spiritual rather than £
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Which sociologist is interested in the relationship between religion and social change?
Bruce
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What did he compare?
2 religiously inspired protest movements: the civil rights movement and the New Christian Right
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Who was behind the civil rights movements?
The black clergy (led by Dr Martin Luther King jr.)
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How does Bruce view religion?
As an ideological resource
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How are religious organisations equipped to create change?
They can take the moral high ground, channel dissent, act as an honest broken and mobilise public opinion
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What is the New Christian Right?
A politically and morally conservative, Protestant fundamentalist movement.
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Why does Bruce argue that the NCR have been unsuccessful?
It has never had the support of more than 15% of the population at one time, and because America's views are becoming more democratic
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How do Marxists normally view religion?
As an entirely conservative force. A set of ruling-class ideas that legitimise inequality
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However, what do Marxists also recognise?
That ideas can be relatively autonomous, and therefore can be independent from capitalism
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What do they therefore argue about religion?
It can have a dual character. (It can be a force for change as well as stability)
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What does Ernst Bloch (1959) believe about religion?
Religion often inhibits change, but can also inspire protest and rebellion
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What is it an expression of?
'The principle of hope'
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What does he believe about images of utopia?
They may sometimes deceive people, but they also help to create a vision of a better world and thus push for social change
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What is Liberation Theology?
A movement in Latin American Catholicism where religious authorities spoke out against military dictatorship due to their strong committment to the poor
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What does it emphasise?
"Praxis" - practical action based on theory
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What did LT help to achieve?
A resistance of dictatorship and the bringing about of democracy in Latin Americaurb
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What is a Millenarian movement?
An attempt to change the present, and to bring about the kingdom of God on earth
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What does Worsley (1986) believe that these want?
A total and imminent transformation of the world, by supernatural means rather than through social change
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Who do these normally appeal to?
The poor
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What is Gramsci (1971) interested in?
How the ruling class maintain their control over society through ideology rather than coercion
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What is hegemony?
Ideological domination or leadership over society
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He also sees how religion can benefit the working class. How?
It may allow them to see through ruling class hegemony. Some clergy may become organic intllectuals.
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What is an organic intellectual?
An individual leader who can support working class organisations with their higher intelligence
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What example does Billings (1990) use to demonstrate Gramsci's theory?
Miners in 1920s Kentucky. The miners benefitted from the leadership of organic intellectuals who were miners but also preachers and could strive for better conditions. Textile workers at the same time did not have this advantage.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

How can religion be seen as a conservative force?

Back

1) It is 'traditional' 2) Its functions help to conserve or preserve and maintain the status quo

Card 3

Front

What are religion's conservative beliefs?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

How is religion conservative in function?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

How do functionalists view religion?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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