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To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support the view of the relationship between beliefs, religious organisations and social groups.

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Introduction

"There is more to religion than just belief. For instance, religion and religious organisations help groups cope with changes such as migration and adjustment to new societies. For some, religion provides the whole basis on which their lives are structured." To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support the view of the relationship between beliefs, religious organisations and social groups. Although some may argue that religiosity within our society is in decline , for many there is still a strong sense of community found within religion, and a basis for which they can live their lives, as it provides morals and values. It is clear that for some, religion proves to be one of the most important things to someone's life, it is the thing that makes their identity. The Home Office Survey 2004 found that when asking to rank religion in relation to how important it was to your identity, the results varied greatly. Religion was cited 10th by those of white ethnicities, but 3rd most important for those of black ethnicities. There are many reasons for this diverse response, as many people view the role of religion within their lives, and the impact it can have upon it differently. ...read more.

Middle

These affected are therefore unaware of the unjust society that they are living in, however it is stated that religion for some acts as an escape route. Women for instance prove to be more religious then men. Marxist feminist feel that it is women who are oppressed by men in a continuous patriarchal society, therefore they may turn to religion as a way of escape. However, women's church attendance is in decline due to the inherently sexist hierarchies and male dominance within the church. They are instead turning to New Age Movements which offer more freedom and choice, with 80% of them being made up of women according to Paul Heelas' Kendal Project. In relation to this, certain new age movements such as the world rejecting groups attract the youth, who lack adult like qualities but are no longer children. By joining these groups they feel as though they are becoming part of a community with others who feel that they too are unattached from adulthood and childhood. In joining these groups they feel as though their social and personal problems will be solved. This type of group structures its members lives in a more extreme way then other religions may provide. ...read more.

Conclusion

42% of people say that they 'belong to a religion' but only 8% of adults attend church. Furthermore, for many of those who participate in communal worship, being part of a community and the support offered is due to their shared beliefs. If religion was not due to belief the religious community would not be as close knit as the members would have little in common, thus making the community factor redundant. Therefore, is it arguable that belief is the cause of their religiosity and the other factors are merely positive side effects. In the past, many people attended church to meet social expectations. In modern society, however, Steve Bruce accepts that religion can remain an important part of individual beliefs, but feels that religion has lost its social and political influence. To conclude, sociological evidence strongly supports the claim that there is more to religion than just belief, as those who participate in religion do so due to reasons such as wanting to be accepted, to be part of the community, to meet social expectations or to escape oppression. However, belief must be the main aspect of religion, otherwise people would gains support and assert their identity via other, non-religious organisations. ?? ?? ?? ?? Natalie Glew, Eloise Collins and Marilyn Wilkinson ...read more.

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