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

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

Extracts from this document...


'Religion can be both conservative force and an initiator of social change" To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view? (33) There is great debate concerning the role of religion in society, and whereas some claim that religion acts as a conservative force, others argue that religion is a major contributor to social change. It would be likely, many sociologists have took the middle ground, and argue that religion can act as both as conservative force, and an initiator of social change. There are a number of possible relationships between religion and social change. Religion can either promote social change, or can also be a factor in helping promote it. On the other hand, religion itself may not influence changes in society, but there is still a relationship between the two. Functionalists and Marxists both argue that religion does not bring about change in society. They believe that religion acts as a "conservative Force" and that it is changes in society that shape religion, not the other way round as religion does not shape society. A conservative force can have two meanings. It is usually used to refer to religion as preventing change and maintaining the status quo. ...read more.


Although there are strong examples of support towards the view that religion is a conservative force, although these theories completely reject the idea that religion can cause social change, and therefore do not support the statement concerned entirely as religion looks to be more of a conservative force. This example can highlight how religion can act as a force for social change as well as being a conservative force; there are many examples which support the claims of this view. Some sociologist comments on how the Christian churches of southern American provide an organisational structure for the black 'civil rights movement' during the age of apartheid. Nelson mentions a number of examples of when religion has undermined authority or promoted change; such as when the catholic church apposes communism, and how Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a strong opponent of apartheid. We have seen how religion can be a conservative force, but sociologists have also shown it to be a force for change. Perhaps pone of the most famous examples of this is the view of Weber, and that he argues that the religious beliefs of Calvinism. Weber notes that many past societies had capitalism in the sense of the greed for wealth, which they often spent on luxury consumption. ...read more.


Some other sociologists argue with this view and see that if a religions beliefs are central to society and are a dominant part of the culture of a country then religion has greater power to change society, which could be an argument towards the statement that religion can act as an initiator of social change also if the belief system is held by a religion, it will more than likely shape its role in society. A religion emphasises obedience to strict morals, it is ore likely to product individuals that are critical of society and wish to change it. In conclusion the claim that religion can be both a conservative force and an initiator of social change appears to be valid to one and the excess of evidence that highlights the two contrasting views of religion strengthens this proposition. It also seems to depend of the society in question and what role religion plays in that specific society, as religion can take on a number of roles and whether it keeps a conservative force or makes changes can depend on the circumstances. Although both sides of the argument have their support, it is perhaps best to take a broad view of the social institution as there are many factors which have to be considered to see whether religion plays a conservative role or is an initiator of social change. ...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?

    This example can be applied to the divide between the bourgeoisie and proletariat and reinforces the idea that this social inequality is just how society is meant to be - and therefore prevents a revolution, maintaining the status quo. Because religion gives the prospect of a better life after death,

  2. Is social change evolutionary or revolutionary?

    When these adjustments do not occur, equilibrium disappears, threatening social order. It is actually a step-by-step process to achieve social change. In Parson's words, 'once a disturbance has been introduces into an equilibrated system there will tend to be a reaction to this disturbance which tends to restore the system to equilibrium.'

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

    Evidence supporting this would be that Christian churches were involved in the other throw of Marxism in Eastern Europe, similar evidence in different situations such as liberation theology supporting radical political movements for change in Latin America, Islamic fundamentalism being the basis of opposition to the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s also support Weber's argument.

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

    one collective act of worship, as in the case of many modern multi-faith societies and with religious beliefs being expressed individually, if at all. Marxist thinkers believe that religion is the 'opium of the people' making them disillusioned by how religion (the drug)

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

    beliefs might integrate a social group, those same beliefs may have repercussions which in the long term can produce changes in society. Weber examines the relationship between certain forms on Protestantism and the development of western industrial capitalism. Weber claims that a particular form of Protestantism, ascetic Calvinist Protestantism developed capitalism.

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

    If the charismatic leader attracts enough followers in a certain religious movement or cult, it can bring about significant and perhaps radical social change in that society. Furthermore, Weber believes leader with traditional values and authority can influence social change.

  1. Sociological theories and Healthcare.

    The Collectivists found out to help to support the family who are in need (poor) of the help, the well of families should contribute to the government in a way that they should pay taxes and national insurance contribution. These are still major issues of governments today.

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

    Religious thinking, practice and institutions are becoming less important both in the lives of individuals and in society. Therefore religion is declining so how can Durkheim say its Bonding people together. Malinowski agrees with Durkheim that religion promotes solidarity. However he suggests that it does this by promoting psychological functions for individuals He saw.

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