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Analyse and evaluate the relationship between religion and social change

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Analyse and evaluate the relationship between religion and social change. The majority of sociologists today do not believe there is a simple relationship between religion and social change. They try to identify the particular factors that influence the role of religion, beliefs and institutions within different sections of society. Religion can be defined as a set of beliefs where people take part in certain practises often following a leader which determines how people live their everyday lives. It has key functions in modern society. The major function of religion is to socialize society's members into a value consensus by investing values with a sacred quality. These values are moral codes which regulate our social behaviour, for example the functionalist Parsons believes that religion is embedded in our culture and our laws are based on the Ten Commandments and they act as moral glue in society. Religion encourages social integration and solidarity where everyone shares moral values. Social change can have many affects on religion by either being a force and encouraging it to grow or promoting secularisation where the amount of religious activity declines; due to this they are both closely interconnected. ...read more.


The functionalist view of religion is that it helps to keep society running and religion depends on societies needs. They believe in a collective conscience where people have shared values. Durkheim says that each religion has symbols which are important to them. The Australian aborigines have totem poles which they worship; these are sacred and important to their religion. Malinowski agrees with Durkheim and says that religion reinforces social norms and values. Yet he also believes that religion is only functional in specific areas of life, for example in times of need or tragedy religion provides people with comfort. However there are some criticisms to the functionalist view of religion and how it doesn't bring about social change. Religion can have a negative affect on societies and can be dysfunctional, rather than binding people together it can cause conflict. Also the majority of the functionalist view is based on the idea that society has one religion, but nowadays most societies are multi-cultural which again shows how society has changed. Marxists believe that religion is the 'opium of the people' and that it dulls the pain of oppression of living in a capitalist society. ...read more.


Otto Maduro also argued for the relative autonomy of religion, suggesting that in situations where there is no other outlet for grievances such as in Latin America, the clergy can provide guidance for the oppressed in their struggle with dominant groups. Religious fundamentalists can also bring about social change. Fundamentalists are extremists which interpret their holy book literally. They are concerned about the changing society which challenge the authority of god and therefore try and resurrect traditional morals and values. An example of a group of religious fundamentalists who have brought about social change are Islamic fundamentalists who caused the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. This has brought about changes in society because security is much stricter now and other Islamic people may be judged badly due to this. Nowadays we live in a multi-cultural society and social change is expected to occur. Living in a multi-cultural society has brought many religions together and therefore society has changed because people have had to learn to respect each others beliefs. This sometimes causes conflict which goes against the functionalist and Marxist belief that religion maintains the status quo, because people will disagree with each other and not have the same morals. Therefore it is true that religion can bring about social change, and social change can also have an affect on religion. ?? ?? ?? ?? Abbi Short ...read more.

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