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

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Introduction

'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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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