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

Compare and contrast Marxist and functionalist views of religion.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast Marxist and functionalist views of religion. The functionalist perspective of religion shows a positive view. It examines religion in terms of societies needs. Emile Durkheim was a functionalist and he argued that all societies divide the world into two categories, the sacred and the profane. Religion is based on this division. It is a unified system of beliefs and practices related to sacred things. Durkheim studied a group with a religion called totemism. This group had a scared symbol which represents their clan but also which is their religious sacred symbol and so he argued that if they were worshipping this symbol then they too would be worshipping society. Durkheim also believed that social life is impossible without the shared beliefs and values of the collective conscience. Without them there would be no social order or social control, there would be no society at all. According to Durkheim religion reinforces the collective conscience. Durkheim, emphasized the importance of collective worship. The social group comes together in religious rituals full of drama and reverence. Together its members express their faith in common values and beliefs. Parsons, another functionalist, argued that human action is directed and controlled by norms provided by the social systems. Religious beliefs are largely integrated into society. For example in a Christian society many laws are based on the ten commandments. Parsons sees religion as being address to particular problems that occur in all societies. ...read more.

Middle

Religion also acts as a means of social control. From a Marxist viewpoint religion does not just cushion the effects of oppression. It acts as a means of social control by maintaining the existing system of exploitation and reinforcing class relationship. By making hard lives bearable, religion tends to discourage people from attempting to change their situation. By offering an illusion of hope in a hopeless situation it prevents thoughts of overthrowing the system. It also helps to produce a false consciousness that blinds members of the subject class to their true situation and their real interests. In this way it diverts people's attention from the real source of their oppression and so helps to maintain ruling-class power. The Marxist and functionalist ideas are comparable but are more contrasting against one another. They have some basic principles which are quite similar to one another, both look at religion, and see it affecting the whole of society. They both see religion as a force of social control, the minority controlling the minority. The Marxists as well as the feminists believe that religion is structural, and see it as a conservative force, which prevents change, and keeps traditional and set values alive. They both have the same criticisms too, when it comes to methodological weaknesses. Neither has investigated the impact of secularisation on the role of religion. Media now plays a demanding role in society, and both perspectives ignore these facts, and therefore are not as up to date with the changes that are happening in society as they should be. ...read more.

Conclusion

They do this by legitimising the existing social order, as they state it is God given e.g. the Caste System. Functionalists believe that religion is a positive force on society and individuals within society; however Marxists argue that this is not the case and religion acts on behalf of Capitalism, and the dominant ruling class and plays a negative role in enabling them to exploit the working class. Stating that this is the correct way to act, this can be shown in many religions, for example the Muslims and the caste system, and in Christianity. Marxists argue that religion is a tool of social control, and legitimates the Capitalism system, again promoting false conciseness. On the other side Functionalist will argue the case that religion keeps society stable. For example Durkheim states that religion has value consensus which helps to integrates everyone tint societies, making them feel as if they belong, and therefore leading to social solidarity. Both Marxists and Functionalists (Durkhiem) believed and acknowledged that religion would decline in its importance in relation to society. However as the Functionalists believed nothing could take the pace that religion had in society, and the influence that it could impact, the Marxists saw this in a different light and believed that the media would take religions place in society, having a greater impact on society than one single religion ever had done in the past. The Functionalist and Marxist perspectives on religion contrast greatly, and are not really comparable. They do have similar view points in some instance but normally these take different stances. Their main comparisons lie in their methodological weaknesses. ...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. Evaluate functionalist views on the role and functions of religion today (33)

    Functionalists such as Parsons argue that a role/function of religion is to act as a regulatory force. Each religion has a code of laws that 'must be obeyed' in order to receive an after life, or to go to heaven.

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

    anything which challenges the ruling class directly- a conservative force, discouraging people from attempting change so the dominant groups can retain their power. Marxists also argue that the Church is extremely wealthy and the majority of priests and bishops are essentially from an upper class base and are well educated.

  1. Compare and Contrast Functionalist and Marxist views of Society

    In short, Functionalism is a very optimistic theory, and looks to the brighter side of life, but i think it misses a fairly important part of society; such as Criminals like rapists and Paedophiles; Durkheim said that these groups of people were just not 'Socialised' enough so do not knows the norms and values of society.

  2. What Would Functionalists Say About Health e.g. the Sick Role? ...

    Therefore social regulation is required to protect the vulnerability of the patient. However, in contrast, sick people are also a social threat. They are deviant because they have been relieved of their normal social obligations and this is socially threatening because it has its attractions and the more people who feel that, the greater the threat to the social system.

  1. Secularisation. Bryan Wilson said all societies would eventually lose their religion, a vague statement ...

    Back then the church was fully involved in society, it was the power, the church controlled the state, and therefore education and socialisation was done through the church. This cannot be seen today so Bryan Wilson uses this evidence to say the church is only involved in things such as marriage and funerals.

  2. Assess the view that sociological arguments and evidence support functionalist views of the role ...

    When looking at Civil Religion in the UK, Gerald Parsons (2002) claimed that the ?most widespread and visible expression of Britain?s Civil Religion? is probably the events and ceremonies surrounding Remembrance Sunday. Parsons explains that as the televised scene at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London in which the Royal Family

  1. Assess the functionalist view that religion benefits both society as a whole and its ...

    Americanism is expressed by pledging allegiance to the flag, singing the national anthem and symbols such as the Lincoln memorial all of which are similar things to what can be found in ?real religions?. It binds people from many faiths and backgrounds together.

  2. The Contrasting Views of Education from the Marxists and Functionalists Perspective.

    Marxism is contradictory to the functionalist; it is also a theory that views society in a macro perspective. Marxism suggests that society is in constant conflict, the working class (proletariat) are in constant conflict with the ruling class (bourgeoisie). The conflict occurs because the ruling class abuse their powers over the working class.

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