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Analyse and Evaluate the relationship between religion and Social Change.

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Mandip Dhillon Analyse and Evaluate the relationship between religion and Social Change. The relationship between religion and social change had been strongly debated in the past years, as more and more individuals have to a certain extent 'broken' away from the more traditional values shared in a once united society. Writers on religion tend to fall into on of two sides, ' those who see religion as a conservative force and those who see religion as a force for social change. This essay will examine, analyse and evaluate the two arguments. Durkheim, relates religion to the overall structure of the society, seeing it as acting as a conservative force. He based his work on a study of "Totemism," Australian Aborigines. A totem being an object, i.e. plant, animal or something with a deep symbolic meaning. He argued that it was these totems that presented the most basic form of religion. Durkheim then defined religion in terms of the sacred and the profane, the sacred being holy and spiritual and the profane the meaning directly the opposite. ...read more.


There fore religion can also be seen as a manner in which the individual is controlled, setting codes, for positive social change. Functionalists, Malinowski (1954) and Parsons (1965), view religion as functioning to relieve stress and anxieties created through everyday life, such as birth, puberty, marriage and death. Such events can undermine people's commitment to the wider society and as a result social order. Religion gives these events a meaning, helping people to come to terms with the change. Societies have 'evolved' religious 'rites of passage' ceremonies in order to minimise social disruption. For example at a death, families feel torn, angry and upset, however the funeral service gives them hope and makes them adjust to this new situation, be comforting them. Also the fact that mourning is then done in groups, it re affirms the fact that the group outlives the passing of particular individuals and is there to support its members. Marx, like Durkheim argued that religion was a conservative force in society, however he did not agree that this force was beneficial to society. ...read more.


All religions see their Gods as good. Being poor and living through poverty has a reward, 'salvation.' Such views promote the idea that there is no point in changing anything; there is no need for social change. Some revolutionaries, however have used religion in an attempt to change society, fore example in many Central and South American countries such as Guatemala, Chile and El Salvador where the police and military have been used to crush opposition, religion is the only remaining vent for opposition. This fusion is known as 'liberation theology.' Weber illustrates how religion, rather than being a conservative force, can initiate social change. Charismatic authority occurs when people are attracted by the ideas of a person who has a powerful personality and they then do what that person wants them to do. This brings about social change. For example, Adolf Hitler, who changed the world's political landscape. Religion has also had its share of charismatic leaders, such as Jesus Christ and Mohammed. Such charismatic leaders, who have had the power to influence others, causeing significant social change, have founded many religious sects. ...read more.

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