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Assess The Extent To Which Marxist & Feminist Theories Help Our Understanding Of Religion In Society Today

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Introduction

Assess The Extent To Which Marxist & Feminist Theories Help Our Understanding Of Religion In Society Today Two sets of sociologists, which give their perspective on religion, are the Marxists and the Feminists. These two sets of theorists provide two different definitions on how religion affects society today; however their meanings differ only slightly. While Marxism argues that religion legitimises the, "subordination of the subject class and the domination and privilege of the ruling class", Feminists see religion as a product patriarchy, serving the interest of men under the subordination of women. Whilst both see religion as tools of domination and oppression, the parties involved in this domination and oppression are different. Marxist theories are often known as conflict theories, as they see a conflict between the capitalist ruling class and the proletariat subject class, the two main classes, which compose the industrial society. Therefore religion is used to keep the proletariat in their place. This is done in a variety of ways. One way in which this is done is via maintaining a false ideology, a false consciousness for the proletariat. Marx said that, "religion acts as an opiate to dull the pain produced by the oppressed." ...read more.

Middle

On the other hand, Feminists state that religion simply enforces patriarchy, religion is a patriarchy institution and it benefits males over females. This applies to all religion and Karen Armstrong (1993) implies that, "None of the major religions has been particularly good to women" One way of maintaining this patriarchal institution is from evidence from sacred texts, as they tend to negatively portray women. For example, God created Adam first in the Bible and Eve was simply created as a, "helpmate", an afterthought. Further enforcing that male are above females is the fact that Eve was made out of Adams ribs, therefore she was automatically inferior. Women are negatively portrayed in the Bible such as the prostitute Mary Magdalene, whilst Eve was the one who tempted Adam to eat the forbidden fruit and therefore cause destruction. This shows that in society today, women should be inferior and male should keep up their dominance, reinforcing the social control of women. It just helps to legitimise gender inequality. In society, both men and women have clearly defined roles, mostly derived from religion, and therefore this keeps the inequalities secure. Women have also been oppressed via the lack of progress in religion. ...read more.

Conclusion

Additionally, Feminists have been criticised for just seeing a negative view of religion. Many argue that feminist's view of gender inequality allows them to ignore the positive effects religion has upon society, such as promoting social solidarity and reinforcing positive morals and values. Another criticism which is more religion specific is concerning the Islamic religion and the wearing of the veil. The feminist sociologist, Watson (2002) has implied that while the veiling of women is often seen as social control, it actually is not. She along with other sociologists claims that the veil acts as a tool for women to cope with male oppression. It can reduce the possibility of sexual harassment and prevents women from being judged solely on their looks, therefore making themselves more secure. Whilst feminism claims that religion acts in a negative way towards women, this is not always the case. In conclusion, the Marxist and Feminist perspectives of religion are similar in some aspects. Both agree that religion acts as tool of oppression, they simply differ on who is the oppressed. Whilst both religions offer insights in the role of religion in society today, one is to oppress the subject class, while the other states religions role is to dominate women, both have their criticisms and therefore both cannot adequately provide solid explanations on to how religion affects society completely. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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