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

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Assess the extent to which Marxist and Feminist theories help our understanding of religion in society today. Both Marxist and feminist theories are based upon conflict that is there are groups exploiting other subordinate groups, and they both see things from a macro point of view (the wider society). Marxist believe religion is part of the superstructure it's economically determined, as the infrastructure (economic base) controls the rest of society. Marxist see the religious organisation and all of its institutions as an ideological state apparatus used as a tool of oppression to place the proletariats in a subordinate position. Through secondary socialisation theodicy is passed onto the next generation which contains the ruling class ideologies, creating docile well behaved passive followers who are under false-class consciousness and defer their gratification as they seek salvation in the afterlife. E.g. through such things as religion hymns their position in society is justified to them and legitimised to the ruling class as they come to believe that their position in society is divine. Marxists see religion as a method of cushioning the effects of oppression and at the same time maintaining the oppression, acting as a mechanism of social control making sure the continuous exploitation carries on. ...read more.


Evidence supporting Marxist view that religion had been manipulated for the benefits of the ruling class comes from Bruce who found in the 2004 US elections G.W. Bush supporters were all regular church attendees because Bush supported their views and ideologies. However Marxists have been criticised for being to negative because religion is not just the means by which justification of alienation of the upper classes occurs it can also be a conservative for change and lead to positive things e.g. Demond Tutu abolishing the apartheid policy, or the 1979 revolution in Iran. Neo-Marxist see religion as something that has independence, relative autonomy and Neo-Marxist Manduro believes that religion as a conservative force at times is the only channel to bring about social change. Manduro introduced liberation theology that's linked into Marxist ideologies that led to a series of conflicts in Latin America, because of the unfair hierarchal status that the pope and Vatican City had. The priest who were at the 'grass route' of the situation wanted radical change in society as they saw the immense absolute poverty crushing the people and therefore they wanted people to develop 'class consciousness'. ...read more.


In 'Hidden Face of Eve' concerning patriarchy in Islam she explains how Islam stresses equality of everyone however in reality this does no happen, as women are always placed in a subordinate position e.g. Holm's found how in Japanese folk religion women have to prepare all religious rituals but it's the men who get to take part in them. Holms also argues that women are second rate due to their sexuality as menstruation and child birth are regarded as polluting but she's does recognise some reduction of inequality over time. A criticism of feminism, like Marxism, is that they tend to ignore the positive changes in society e.g. In Islam women get to keep their names and in 1994 there was the first women clergy. Some of the feminist and Marxist views are anachronistic and due to the collapse of the grand narrative people are becoming disenchanted by religion as a result of rationalisation and globalisation, which has also increased secularisation and religion is no longer according to Berger providing its main purpose which is a bulwark against anomie. This leads to individuals doubting the monopoly of truth and leads them to feeling homelessness and religion stops providing a religious canopy. ?? ?? ?? ?? Poriya Ganinazari q.6 Jan 2007 ...read more.

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