• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Assess the extent to which Marxist and Feminist theories help our understanding of religion in society today.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

(3) Assess the extent to which Marxist and Feminist theories help our understanding of religion in society today (33 marks) Marxist theories of religion mainly relate to how religion helps the domination of society by the Bourgeoisie. They believe that society is always based on conflict between two classes, the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie. Feminist theories of religion explain overall how religion identifies gender differences and inequalities, and in particular how religion helps men to maintain their dominance over women in society. One Marxist view on religion is that religion is an ideological apparatus. Ideological apparatus is a form of social control, and the primary function of religion is to reproduce, maintain and justify class inequality - the controlling of the Proletariat by the Bourgeoisie. This helps our understanding of religion in society as it is relevant to today's society. Evidence to support this view is from Leach, where he found that 80% of higher Church of England positions were still recruited from Bourgeoisie (Oxbridge and private schools). However, this view of religion maintaining class inequality and controlling the Proletariat can be criticised. Religion doesn't always control the Proletariat. There are some examples of religious movements that have brought about radical social change and have helped remove ruling elites. This is called liberation theology. An example of this is Fr Rogelio Cruz, a catholic priest who led 200 families in a mighty protest at a temporary ...read more.

Middle

The cause of the oppression (an exploitative economic system) needs to be addressed, and not the symptom (pain and suffering). Once cured, no pill will be needed, and therefore religion will be unnecessary. A feminist view of religion is that the church reinforces traditional gender roles that serve the interests of men. This shows religion being an instrument of domination and oppression by men. It is useful to our understanding of religion in society as this point helps explain why influential ideas are formulated by celibate men in Christianity. However, this point can also be criticised. For example, some Muslim women claim that the wearing of the hijab is actually liberating them, rather than being a form of male exploitation. This is because it frees them from being seen as a sexual object by men. Marx and Engels claimed that Religion legitimises social inequality. By this, they mean that religion controls people by promoting the idea that the existing hierarchy is natural, God given, and therefore, unchangeable. This was seen during the Feudal period, were Kings believed they had a divine right to rule. Evidence to support this point, which helps our understanding of religion in society, is from Halevy, where he claimed that Methodism distracted the Proletariat from their class grievances by encouraging them to see enlightenment in spirituality rather than revolution. ...read more.

Conclusion

El Sadaawi believes that female oppression is evident in early forms of religion. For example, the Bible and Koran were written in extremely patriarchal societies, when men were able to write texts and justify their dominant position at the time. A classic example of this is the story of Adam and Eve. Eve tends to be depicted as an evil seductress, corrupting Adam and bringing sin into the world. This helps to aid our understanding of religion in society to a great extent as it explains why in Islam, Muslim women are not allowed to touch the Koran or enter mosques whilst menstruating, and it also helps to explain gender differences in other religions such as Buddhism, were monks are considered to be superior to Buddhist nuns. However, the theory of religion is weakened by changes that have shown equality between men and women. For example, Sikhism allows males and females to hold office. Overall, both the Feminist and Marxist views of religion help us in our understanding of religion. Simone De Beauvoir found that religion acts for women in the same way that it does for the Proletariat in Marx's analysis (basically it is a form of drug that makes oppression bearable). In addition, like Marx's Proletariat, women are given the false belief that they will be compensated for their sufferings on earth by equality in heaven. ?? ?? ?? ?? A2 Sociology 18th October 2010 Past Paper # 3 Chris Cartwright ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the usefulness of feminist contributions to our understanding of society today

    4 star(s)

    Radical feminists claim that patriarchal oppression is direct and personal. Not only does it occur in the public sphere of work and politics but also in the private sphere of the family, domestic labour and sexual relationships. Radical feminists refer to these relationships as sexual politics.

  2. Sociological theories and Healthcare.

    Girls are taught their gender roles and how to develop and to improve and serve the needs of the man by learning how to cook and clean for the men. Liberal Feminist Liberal Feminist believes that women and men are becoming more equal in society.

  1. Assess the nature and extent of secularization in society today. Evidence surrounding church attendance ...

    Modern Capitalism has also grown, and the church has found it impossible to establish control over economic sphere. Modern societies have become increasingly egalitarian. People no longer have fixed roles which are ascribed at birth. People frequently mix with strangers without knowing their status.

  2. Discuss the similarities and differences between conflict of Marxist theories and functionalist theories in ...

    To functionalists, division of the social class is a necessity. This contributes to the social reward and sanction theory. It is to keep everyone in society motivated to improve and become better, hence, society will still be able to function properly.

  1. The main function of religion in society today is to dull the pain of ...

    This therefore provides evidence that the main role of religion is to dull the pain of oppression. On the other hand, the main role of religion may not simply be, to dull the pain of oppression. Religion can actually be revolutionary as said by Neo Marxists Gramsci and Maduro.

  2. Assess the view that science has replaced religion as the main ideological influence in ...

    Therefore science and religion are not the main ideological influence in some parts of society today. On the other hand Polanyi believes that science is not an open belief system but a closed one. Science only builds up knowledge with theories that go with the paradigm.

  1. Assess the usefulness of feminist contributions to our understanding of society today

    However, liberal feminists are criticised for over-optimism. They ignore the possibility that there are deep-seated structures causing women's oppression such as capitalism or patriarchy. Walby argues they offer no explanation for the overall structure of gender inequality. Radical feminism however, believes that patriarchy is still very much around in modern society.

  2. Evaluate Marxist and Neo-Marxist beliefs about society

    For example, in the Bible Eve eats from the ?tree of knowledge?, committing original sin and hence being banned from the Garden of Eden. This highlights the bible?s message of keeping oneself blind to oppression or knowledge to please God.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work