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Assess the view that religion acts as a conservative force on society.

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Sociology Essay Assess the view that religion acts as a conservative force on society. Even though sociologists do not have a true definition of religion they believe that religion is a belief in the supernatural. Some sociologists believe that religion acts as a conservative force. A conservative force is something that prevents change within society and also maintains the status quo. Functionalist believes that religion is a conservative force. Durkhiem believes that everybody shares the same beliefs and values that are represented by sacred symbols. Durkhiem would argue that religion acts as a conservative force as it reinforces the collective conscious. Durkhiem would argue that as people worship in church they are worshiping a set of values that society shares. Therefore the collective conscious is reinforced and status quo is maintained. Durkhiem's study of the Australian aborigines "totemism" showed that they had sacred symbol in which they worshiped, this is the totem pole. He argued that when the aborigines worshiped the totem they were worshiping society. This reinforced the collective conscious and unified the group and allowed the status quo to be maintained. ...read more.


Parsons another functionalist would ague that religion provides answers to question that appear to be unanswerable, for example when villains seem to be getting away with crimes others question themselves why don't they turn to crime. They are then reminded that if they lead a good life they go to heaven and those who lead a life of crime go to hell. Bellah argues that in countries were there is large diversity people come together and worship there own country, this unites different groups and helps maintain the status quo of the particular country. This is known as civil religion. I realise that functionalist provide interesting facts about religion many sociologist criticise them as they think that it is difficult to see how religion can be functioning to socialise the majority of society's members into morality and social integration if only a minority of people regularly attend church. Functionalists are also criticised as religion often has dysfunctional consequences. Rather than binding people together, many of the world's conflicts have been caused by religion for example in Northern Ireland there is conflict between Protestants and Catholics. ...read more.


An interactionist called Berger believes that as there is now a lot more computers and updated technology, the behaviour of society is not governed by religion. This is known as "modernity". Rationalization now explains most of society's modern world. Rational behaviour can explain things a lot more scientifically. Modern society's are now far more geographically mobile and have a lot more wide spread electronic media for example the internet. This has made a lot more people aware of alternative solutions than always depending upon god. Therefore they are less likely to have behaviour governed by god, this leads to social change. As there is now a large amount of religions that exist in society people believe that it is better to not have a religion at all, Berger argues that this leads to anomie as religion no longer provides the meaning to life. Nelson a sociologist also believes that religion does not act as conservative. He argues that religion creates most of the problems that occur within society, for example the conflict between two religions in Northern Ireland (protestant and catholic) Nelson believes that religion is the source of much unrest. Therefore as religion is the cause of unrest within society it does not help to maintain the status quo. Toni McCall ...read more.

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