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

Assess the view that religion was once mainly a conservative force but today is more of a force for social change.

Extracts from this document...


Assess the view that religion was once mainly a conservative force but today is more of a force for social change. In the past religion's role as a conservative force was clearly shown by Kings and Queens ruling my divine right in medieval Europe, the Indian caste system and Egyptian pharaohs who were considered both God and King. Feminists and Marxists agree that religion is a conditioning device which oppresses the people, diluting the demand for social change in order to protect the interests of men and the ruling classes respectively. This is partially supported by Functionalist theorists such as Durkheim, who expressed the belief that religion provides social cement, reinforcing traditional beliefs chosen by a religious moral code such as the 10 Commandments for Christianity, for the good of society. However, there are numerous examples of where religion has acted as a force for change, such as the 9/11 bombing, the war in Ghaza and the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and, more positively, the actions of religious leaders such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero. ...read more.


This reduces social mobility and justifies social order. The idea that religion defends Bourgeoisie interests at the expense of other social groups is supported by Steve Bruce, who claimed that the 'Christian New Right' in America support the Republican party which promotes capitalist values such as less welfare spending, less government interference and fewer restraints on free enterprise. Similarly, Feminist theory considers religion to be a conservative force protecting the interests of men. Sociologist Saadawi states that men distort religion to save their own interests and oppress women, a view supported by Simone de Beauvoir who described religion as an instrument of deception used by men to oppress women. This is support by the fact that Fundamentalist groups in Iran, Israel and Afghanistan ruthlessly conserve or reinstate women's traditional positions. This view would however be challenged by Neo-Marxists such as Otto Maduro, who expressed the belief that it was possible for the church to reform if the oppressed took their discontent to the clergy members. ...read more.


Conversely, Liberation Theologists would argue that this is not particularly beneficial, because in order for the poor to be free from poverty and oppression they must do this themselves, rather than being passive recipients of aid from the wealthy. Both in the past and today, there are numerous examples of where religion has acted as a force for change, for example, Martin Luther King achieving equality for blacks, and as a conservative force, for instance, the support by the Christian New Right for the Republican Party, and even both, such as Islamic Fundamentalist Movements. Overall, as society has become more secular religion has been less able to act as a force for either, because as a result of differentiation the church has lost a great deal of its influence. In societies which have remained theocratic or are more traditional than Western countries, religion has remained oppressive, as shown by the lack of women's rights in Eastern Muslim countries. There is no evidence that the role of religion has changed, or that it has transformed from a conservative force to one actively promoting social change. ?? ?? ?? ?? Marilyn Wilkinson ...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. Free essay

    Is religion a conservative force or a force for social change?

    It will help to restore the equilibrium of society, therefore preventing change and maintaining the status quo. This can be seen in examples such as the incidents of 9/11 and 7/7; religion helped to maintain the social order and prevented social change.

  2. Sociologists who have studied the role of religion in society, and perhaps more specifically ...

    Nonetheless, like functionalists views, the Marxist theory of religion contains some weaknesses in upholding this conservative force. Marx fails to consider secularisation and that religious beliefs may be losing their social significance, as church attendance declines. Marxists also fails to acknowledge that religion exists even when the idea of oppression has come to the end.

  1. Assess the extent to which religion produces social change. Many sociologists such as functionalists ...

    However people would criticise Marxists by saying they fail to consider secularization and that only 10% of people attend church so religion therefore can't be having too much of an impact. Marxists also failed to explain why religion remained when there was no oppression such as communism in the Ussr;

  2. Analyse and Evaluate the relationships between religion and social change.

    Durkheim argues that the function of religious ritual is to maintain social solidarity by affirming the moral superiority of society over its individual members. Durkheim believed that social life could only exist if values were shared and society integrated into a coherent whole.

  1. Most sociologists do not believe there is any straight forward relationship between religion and ...

    Marshall further argued that predestination wasn't introduced to produce a rational pursuit of profit, but was an unintended consequence, therefore, the interpretations that Calvinists put on the doctrine of predestination contributed to them being the first capitalist. Marshall concluded that although other areas might have other prerequisites of capitalism, (labour, profit etc)

  2. Race or religion? The impact of religion on the employment and earnings of Britain's ...

    other Muslims; this last category consists mainly of African Asians and a very small percentage of whites. Hindus can also roughly be divided into two groups. These are Indians and African Asians, with the latter group containing a small number of others.

  1. Religion can be both conservative force and an initiator of social change

    allows them to realise the "collective conscience" that they are all in the same thing together, and should carry on doing so this deters people from going against the norm as they see everyone else doing it, this therefore keeping a conservative force.

  2. Religion can be both a conservative force and an initiator of social change to ...

    Going there is putting their life ate risk. Therefore less chance of success/survival. And the tribe performed religious rituals for the fishermen before fishing. He found out that his increased sense of control for the families of the fishermen, and decreased the feeling of worry.

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